The News – Thursday, December 03, 2009
KARACHI: Just days after it announced a discounted agriculture financing scheme for NWFP and FATA, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Wednesday asked all banks to stop recovery of loans from small farmers of some of the districts.
The government will compensate banks for writing off loans extended to small farmers in NWFP’s Malakand Division and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as part of a relief package announced by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani recently. The package of write-offs of agricultural loans amounts to Rs2.56 billion, it said.
"Banks have been advised to make all-out efforts to publicise the scheme through advertisement in print and electronic media, banners and direct contact with borrowers,” the SBP said in a press statement.
Banks would have to submit their claims for write offs under the scheme to the Agricultural Credit Department of the SBP on prescribed format up to December 15, 2009 for Swat, Buner and Bajaur and up to Dec 25, 2009 for other districts, it said.
"The amount reimbursed by the SBP shall be subject to on-site inspection and if any amount claimed found ineligible, the same shall be required to be refunded by the bank along with penalty.”
It said reimbursement of banks’ claims of outstanding agriculture loans shall be full and final settlement of the borrower’s liabilities.
Banks are required to release all securities/charges held against such loans and issue necessary clearance certificates to the borrower soon after the receipt of funds from the SBP.
Prime Minister Gilani had announced at a convention a relief package for remission and write-off of small farmers’ agriculture loans, which could be of farm or non-farm nature.
Under the package, all loans of small farmers having outstanding balances as on June 30, 2009 in districts of Malakand Division including Swat, Buner, Shangla, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Malakand and Chitral and FATA (Bajaur Agency, Kurram Agency and Khyber Agency) shall be waived and cost thereof shall be borne by the government.
The criteria of small farmers include those having landholding of up to 12.5 acres. In case of non-farm livestock sector, it covers those with 20-50 cows or buffaloes and up to 150 goats or sheep, poultry of up to 5,000 birds or broilers and 1,000 birds for layers, and a fisherman with one boat for marine and up to 2 acres pound for inland fisheries.
The central bank had recently introduced a subsidized loan scheme for farmers of war-torn districts in NWFP and FATA.
Under the scheme, which is valid till 2012, SBP will provide refinance facility to commercial banks at 6 percent. The banks after charging 2pc maximum spread will lend at 8pc to farmers.
It covered war-affected districts Swat, Lower Dir, Malakand, Upper Dir, Bunner and Shangla in NWFP and Bajaur Agency, Khyber Agency, Kurram Agency, Mahmand Agency, N. Waziristan Agency, Orakzai Agency and S. Waziristan Agency in FATA.
The SBP will also share up to 50pc losses of banks against their agriculture production and working capital loans in a bid to encourage lending under the scheme.
The SBP has been pushing to increase agriculture lending for past few years in a bid to increase farm productivity. There was no immediate reaction from Pakistan Banks’ Association on the write offs and the attached penalty clause for wrongly reporting the loan amount.
source – The News