Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) [incumbent ruling party] has promised that after coming into power the party would give interest-free loans to the youth to start their own small business enterprises.
Addressing different election rallies during his campaign in the run-up to May 11 general elections at Talagang and Chakwal in Punjab province, President of PML-N, Nawaz Sharif made some promises. Shahrif, the incumbent prime minister, said if his party came into power he would establish new banks in Chakwal and Talagang and provide interests-free loans to youth of the districts.
According to the report, as many as 47 percent of voters in Pakistan are between the ages of 18 and 35. These reports say out of a total of 83 million voters, about 39 million are under the age of 35.
Additionally, in the run-up to May 11 general elections, youth across the country have been galvanized by Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. Khan remained focused on the youth, persuading them to actively participate in the general elections and break the decades-old status quo in national politics.
Anticipating a loss of a major voter block, close to 50% of the total votes, major political parties including the PML-N announced in their election campaigns a number of youth-focus initiatives aimed at attracting more and more young voters into their camps. Top leadership of PML-N during their campaigns for general elections promised a number of initiatives, including a youth loan scheme for the young voters.
Soon after forming the government at the federal level, PML-N leadership started working on materializing the promises their party’s leaders made during election campaigns. On November 11, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif formally approved the Youth Business Loan Scheme offering up to two million rupees loans to youth to start their own small-scale businesses. The prime minister appointed his young daughter, Maryam Nawaz, as chairperson of the scheme to ensure transparency in the award of loans to youth.
Talking to the Truth Tracker, Ahsan Iqbal, federal minister for the Planning Commission and Development Division, said the prime minister’s announcement of a loan scheme for youth represented a fulfillment of the promise the PML-N leader made during his campaign speeches.
“The Prime Minister doesn’t want to waste time,” said the federal minister. “We decided to facilitate the unemployed youth by offering them loans to start their own businesses,” Iqbal said. “We knew that the public sector institutions are already over staffed and unable to provide more jobs or accommodate hundreds of thousands unemployed youth.”
“The loans would be provided purely on merit, irrespective of political affiliation, through a transparent system,” he added.
The Pakistan People Party (PPP) senior leader Senator Farhatullah Babar told the Truth Tracker that the loan scheme initiated by the current government is not a new scheme. “The PML-N government is following policies of the previous PPP regime,” says Babar.
“It [the loan scheme] is in fact a continuation of the Benazir Income Support Program,” says Babar. He asked the government to come up with policies aimed at creating a congenial environment for businesses and trades. “The government needs to revive the ailing industrial sector to create more jobs opportunities for youth in private sector,” says Babar.
Dr Adeel Malik – an economist and educationist – told Truth Tracker that the government should focus on creating new institutions rather than making the youth beggars. He said it was the government’s responsibility to give jobs to youth in public and private institutions in addition to giving them vocational training.
“The scheme [youth business loan] of the government is not a viable option to end unemployment or bring positive changes in the lives of people,” he said, adding that the government should benefit from the policies practiced by developed countries to create more job opportunities and to end unemployment.
Abid Suleri, an economist and executive director at Sustainable Development Police Institute (SDPI), an independent research organization in Islamabad, said the government seemed to be serious about implementing its promises made with the people during election campaigns. He appreciated the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announcing the loans scheme for the youth, as the government cannot accommodate all the literate and illiterate youth in public sector institutions.
“It is necessary to help people through easy loans to start their own businesses and earn independently,” says Suleri.
Considering the government announcement that it will offer loans to youth and the views of independent experts, Truth Tracker rules the promise is underway.