Interest-free loans for artisans
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Tuesday began a Rs150 million interest-free lending scheme for artisans to promote art and create job opportunities and thus, increasing economic growth in the province.
In line with a decision of the provincial cabinet, Bank of Khyber (BoK) will play the lead role in the scheme by offering loans. Representatives of the provincial culture department and public sector Bank of Khyber signed a Memorandum of Understanding at a ceremony here with provincial information and culture minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain in the chair.
“The scheme is aimed at keeping traditional art alive and making best use of the potential of local artisans to promote art,” Mr Iftikhar told participants.
He said Rs150 million worth of loans would be offered to artisans during the current financial year with a special attention to female artisans as part of women empowerment initiatives.
The minister referred to the provincial government`s two other lending schemes meant to create self-employment and generate economic activities at the grassroots level and said the Bacha Khan Khpal Rozgar Scheme and the Hunarmand Rozgar Scheme had benefited scores of jobless youth, skilled labourers and small-time traders across the province.
He, however, said the lending scheme for artisans was different from the government`s other initiatives, as the government wanted to use it to preserve the vanishing traditional arts by tapping the local artisans` talent.
“It will also benefit the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa society by creating better business opportunities for many,” he said.
Mr Iftikhar said initially, the scheme would cover Peshawar district and later, its scope would be extended to other districts of the province.
He said artisans belonging to the professions of brass work, copper work, wood carving, pottery making, foot wear making, straw work, metal work, khaddar (locally-produced fabric) and embroidery would be able to get loans ranging from Rs50,000 to Rs70,000.
“Permanent residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from the age of 18 years to 55 years will be eligible to get loan. The applicants, however, will need to have a minimum of five years experience in their relevant field of work,” he said.
The minister said artisans, who had already taken loans under other similar schemes of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, would not be entitled to get loans and that persons, who had defaulted in other schemes, wouldn`t qualify for the new scheme.
He said in line with the criteria laid down by BoK and the provincial culture department, applicants would be required to provide two personal guarantees, including a permanent BPS-9 employee of a government or a semi-government organisation and a member of a chamber of commerce or an organisation of skilled workers.
“The loan will be repayable within three years in 33 equal monthly installments. Borrowers will not be required to pay repayment installment for the first three months,” he said.