Youth is a vital asset for every country`s progress. Pakistan has incredible youth but due to issues like shortage of funds, political unrest, and the lack of recognition and platforms to share ideas, they become helpless. According to the International Labor Organization’s recently published Global Employment Trends Report, Pakistan’s current unemployment rate of 5.17 percent will likely rise to 5.29 percent in 2014. The true unemployment rate for youth is much higher still.
The government has recently begun he process of offering special loans worth Rs. 3.7 billion ($37 million) to help and empower the country`s youth. This was the first round of applications for the Business Youth Loan Programme which the premier announced last year.
What will the benefits of this program be? The question has no answer at this time because under the present strict conditions of screening and filing the loan application, young people are disappointed and reluctant to apply. 38,000 applications have been filed across the country: 28,000 from Punjab, 600 from Islamabad, 3,500 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 100 from Gilgit Baltistan, 500 from Azad Kashmir, and 3,000 from Sindh. Out of these 38,000 applications, only 6,217 (16 percent) were approved for balloting and 5,399 applicants found their names in balloting.
It is true that 70 percent of the country`s population did not have access to loans, but how will be the situation improve in the presence of strict application submission conditions? How can the illiterate people file the application? How can a person understand the minor details of the loan process? How can the applicants get their documents attested? How can the young people get the guarantor to sign the application? These are some of the major question which the government must answer.
It is appreciated that women applicants, in this balloting, get a good position, as women from Punjab and Islamabad have been selected through balloting while all applications have been approved from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.
The current government of Pakistan promises to implement the necessary environment for job creation. If the government wants to provide financial independence and sustainability, it should focus more on addressing youth problems. It should be asserted that Government should initiate a media campaign to educate the population about this loan program, followed by relaxation of the loan application process.
Media coverage of first balloting details can be found here. For details of the business loan program, visit the government’s website for the program.
Muhammad Talib Uz Zaman is a Program Officer for CIPE Pakistan.