Mi­cro- fi­nance to spur growth, al­le­vi­ate poverty

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -


the prom­ise of­fered by mi­cro- fi­nance sec­tor where ac­cess to fi­nan­cial ser­vices fa­cil­i­tates the cre­ation of en­ter­prises, gives poor peo­ple ac­cess to work­ing cap­i­tal and pro­vides in­sur­ance and sav­ing fa­cil­i­ties, the gov­ern­ment has de­cided to set up a Mi­cro Fi­nance In­vest­ment Com­pany with the fi­nan­cial sup­port of Ger­many and Bri­tain.

The com­pany to be made op­er­a­tional by July this year, is be­ing es­tab­lished in the face of grow­ing po­ten­tial cus­tomers for the mi­cro­fi­nance which ac­cord­ing to Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ishaq Dar cur­rently hover around twenty five mil­lion and the fig­ure is likely to grow fur­ther in the years to come. This in­deed is the first ma­jor step to­wards fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion of the peo­ple of un­served and un­der­served ar­eas ever since the in­cep­tion of Pak­istan Poverty Alle­vi­a­tion Fund. Mi­cro­fi­nance in­deed of­fers a long- term so­lu­tion to meet na­tional crises, be­sides al­le­vi­at­ing poverty among the large ru­ral and pover­tys­tricken seg­ments, which have un­for­tu­nately re­mained ‘ un­banked’ or fi­nan­cially un­der­served for many decades now, even in this mod­ern day and age. Mi­cro- fi­nance is not, how­ever, lim­ited to loans alone as it also in­cludes sav­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, re­mit­tances and in­sur­ance fa­cil­i­ties — all of which are crit­i­cally im­por­tant for the poor, es­pe­cially dur­ing emer­gen­cies or crises where sav­ings and in­sur­ance can pro­vide that vi­tal cush­ion for sur­vival. Avail­abil­ity of funds to fuel the growth of mi­cro- fi­nance sec­tor has re­mained a chal­lenge and it is now ex­pected that the es­tab­lish­ment of this com­pany will pro­vide the nec­es­sary re­sources for the sec­tor by crowd­ing in and lev­er­ag­ing com­mer­cial sources of fund. There is also a dire need for the play­ers to de­velop in­no­va­tive prod­ucts to raise de­posits and de­velop de­liv­ery mech­a­nisms to reach out to un- served mar­kets. Pro­vi­sion of loans for small en­ter­prises will go a long way in not only gen­er­at­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of new job op­por­tu­ni­ties and also con­trib­ute to­wards push­ing up the growth rate which the gov­ern­ment eyes to take to six to seven per­cent in the next two years.

IN­DIA has the habit of test­ing the pa­tience of its strong neigh bors by flex­ing mus­cles, as it did with China in 1962 and faced the con­se­quences. Re­cently, In­dia in­vited Dolkun Isa, a leader of the World Uighur Con­gress, to a con­fer­ence to be held on April 28 or­gan­ised by the US- based Ini­tia­tives for China. Uighurs and other Chi­nese dis­si­dents in ex­ile were to at­tend the con­fer­ence and dis­cuss demo­cratic trans­for­ma­tion in China. How­ever, Isa’s visa was with­drawn days af­ter China lodged of­fi­cial protests through diplo­matic chan­nels, and re­minded Delhi about the “red cor­ner no­tice” on him. New Delhi was also re­minded that Chi­nese will make it a ma­jor bi­lat­eral is­sue, sources said. In ad­di­tion to de­marche, the Chi­nese side had hinted that Bei­jing may raise the is­sue of In­dia al­low­ing a “ter­ror­ist” to come and at­tend a con­fer­ence, at the Heart of Asia con­fer­ence on Afghanistan.

Days af­ter In­dia is­sued a tourist visa to Chi­nese dis­si­dent Dolkun Isa and three others al­low­ing them to visit the coun­try for a con­fer­ence in Dharam­sala, New Delhi can­celled the visa, as per NDTV’s re­port. The de­ci­sion came af­ter Bei­jing protested the move, call­ing Isa a ter­ror­ist, who lives in Ger­many and was in­vited to the con­fer­ence be­ing or­gan­ised by the US- based Ini­tia­tives for China. Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry Spokesper­son Hua Chun­y­ing’s stated: “What I want to point out is that Dolkun is a ter­ror­ist in red no­tice of the In­ter­pol and Chi­nese po­lice. Bring­ing him to jus­tice is due obli-

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