The Youth Loan Scheme kick off by the Premier Nawaz Sharif is a welcome step and highlights his resolve to keeping his words and promises made during the elections campaign. The innocent youth is jubilant over the scheme without prior knowledge of these pre-conditions attached to the scheme. Though the initiative taken by the present government may prove result-oriented only after such harsh discrepancies are addressed. The day the announcement was made, we saw the anxious youth rushing for the regional offices of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (Smeda) and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) to get detailed information and forms for the scheme. Everybody thought as tough this was a bounty with no strings attached. At first it was announced that the youth applying for loans will have to pay the mark-up of 8 per cent while the remaining 7 per cent will be paid by the government itself. But it is now revealed that the government intends to offer these loans through the Islamic banking system to avoid the un-Islamic practice of riba/interest. It is a good omen since it will be the first step towards eliminating the interest based financial system in the country. But what about other disparities attached to the scheme? For example, the students are asked to provide guarantees. In a society where we see hunger and poverty everywhere, where there is a lot of difference between the haves and havenots, who will be generous enough to provide such guarantee for a person coming from a poor segment of the society. Apparently, it appears that the scheme will benefit only the influential people. If this scheme was really meant for the youth belonging to poor class then the question arises how could it benefit those having no support from such a guarantor? Similar schemes were also introduced in the past but were either too much complicated or had been in the grip of banking mafia. All such anomalies or pitfalls should not be tolerated anymore. The PM needs to declare a clear mechanism to plug the loopholes as well.
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