KARACHI: Meezan Bank, Pakistan’s first and largest Islamic bank, also became the first bank to launch the Islamic SME Asaan Finance Scheme (I-SAAF) for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) under State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) SME Asaan Finance Scheme (SAAF).
The launch ceremony was held on Tuesday at Multan Chamber of Commerce and was attended by Governor SBP Dr Reza Baqir, Deputy CEO Meezan Bank Ariful Islam, President Multan Chamber Khawaja Muhammad Hussain and members of the business community.
Under the Scheme, Meezan Bank will extend Shariah-compliant short-term and long-term facilities of up to PKR 10 million to eligible customers, at a subsidized rate of 9 percent per annum.
The Scheme was introduced by SBP, and eight participating banks were selected through a transparent bidding process. Meezan Bank was one of the successful bidders, with a sizeable share in the overall program, and the only Islamic bank offering its Shariah-compliant alternate, in-line with its Vision of establishing ‘Islamic banking as banking of first choice…’ I-SAAF will allow access to finance to SMEs that despite being credit-worthy are unable to avail financing due to collateral or other requirements.
State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Dr Reza Baqir highlighted that with the objective of stimulating sustainable economic growth of the country, the central bank has been taking various initiatives to facilitate the business community. Some of the major initiatives include introduction of a unique collateral free loan scheme for SMEs; Asaan Finance (SAAF), SBP’s concessionary refinance schemes for different sectors, measures taken to combat the Covid-19 effects, digitization of banking systems and persuasion of banks
He sought the chamber’s cooperation to identify lists of employees of its member industries for extending them loans for constructing homes under Mera Pakistan, Mera Ghar Housing Scheme.
He said that salaried class of the industry drawing around Rs40,000 could avail facility of the loan for building homes. He regretted that only a few Pakistanis could realize the dream of housing in the past, adding that the government launched the scheme with 5-7 percent markup for easiness of people who want to erect homes on 5 to 10 marlas of land under Mera Pakistan, Mera Ghar scheme.
“Banks sanctioned Rs100 billion for this loan. Masses have availed Rs30 bln under this scheme so far while applications of Rs 250 bln are pending with them till now,” he explained.
While distributing cheques to I-SAAF customers, Deputy CEO Meezan Bank Ariful Islam reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to invest in human resource and technology to ensure success of the Scheme and enable a swift and hassle-free application process for its customers. He also presented a memento to Dr Reza Baqir for gracing the event with his presence.