Karachi : Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday vowed to end nepotism in the country, while promising that only the most deserving would be able to avail student loans. Addressing the gathering at the launch of a youth loan scheme in Hyderabad , Sharif said that every youth loan would be disbursed based on merit. The prime minister said that transparency would be maintained at any cost, adding that even he was not qualified to recommend anyone under the scheme. "We have to eliminate the culture of favouritism and recommendations," he said, adding that billions of rupees in loans had already been granted to individuals and groups. He questioned the process whereby a rich student was able to get a Rs20 billion (Dh696 million) loan, even as a poor student struggled to get approval for a paltry sum. "It is the youth who are the builders of Pakistan's future and they are the force that would take the reign of the country," he said. He said that the youth and their development were the government's priority. The premier estimated that more than 100,000 youth would benefit from the loan scheme. Under the recently launched scheme — allocating Rs100 billion for the initiative — anyone in the age bracket of 18 to 45 years is eligible to get a loan of up to Rs2 million for any commercial venture in the urban and rural economies. The State-run National Bank of Pakistan sources said that 4,000 applicants had fulfilled the criteria of the loan so far, whereas 10,000 applications were still pending approval. Sources said that the banks may finalise 15,000 applications by the end of January. The scheme was launched to create jobs as at present the public and private sectors' capacity to create more jobs was saturated amid low economic growth, which averaged a mere three per cent in the past few years.
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