SBP shows reluctance in disclosing loans beneficiaries during PTI government

Central Bank’s Governor prefers to share details of 620 beneficiaries in PAC in-camera meeting

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The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is reluctant to publicly disclose the names of 620 beneficiaries who received soft loans worth $3 billion from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor said he would prefer to share details with the Public Accounts Committee at the in-camera meeting.

The PAC was informed in the meeting that the SBP had implemented the loan scheme on easy terms through commercial banks and disclosing the details of its beneficiaries would violate the confidentiality agreement between the banks and their customers.

This argument did not go down well with MNA Burgess Tahir, who demanded, “Just tell us the names of these 620 people.” ‘

The PAC on Wednesday raised the issue of loans given during the PTI regime for the second time in a row and insisted that public funds were used for the loans, so the names of the beneficiaries should be disclosed.

Earlier on Tuesday, the PAC directed the FIA, NAB, Auditor General of Pakistan and Military Intelligence to conduct a joint investigation into the matter.

PAC Chairman MNA Noor Alam Khan on Wednesday once again ordered that an inquiry into the matter was necessary to assess the benefits of the loans and to ensure that no favors were granted in this regard.

Members of the Public Accounts Committee were demanding a list of more than 600 businessmen who were given loans by commercial banks at zero interest rates for 10 years during the pandemic.

In response, SBP Governor Jamil Ahmed said that the loans given were for industry and machinery, there was no exchange of foreign currency in it and the interest rate was revised to 5 percent.

The SBP governor further said that more than 85 percent of the loans were given by private banks, 42 percent of the borrowers belonged to the textile sector and the funds released were worth Rs 3.94 trillion, but the PAC members challenged the governor’s claim.

Senator Mohsin Aziz asked whether the desired purpose of the scheme was fulfilled. Senator Saleem Mandviwalla also demanded a forensic audit of the scheme and sought details of utilisation of funds.

According to Finance Secretary Imdadullah Bosal, these loans were given under the refinance scheme, which was implemented under the mandate of the State Bank.

Eventually, the PAC agreed to the SBP governor’s proposal and decided to hold an in-camera meeting.

On the other hand, while reviewing the audit objections related to FBR for the year 2019-20, the PAC directed the Chairman FBR to submit a list of staff members who were posted at the ‘profitable’ station in Karachi for more than three years.

In response, FBR Chairman Asim Ahmed told the meeting that there was no provision in the law to shift staff to another station.