Government Introduces Several New Schemes

562663-BudgetDESIGNFAIZANDAWOOD-1371083134-346-640x480ISLAMABAD: This past election was, in large part, about courting the youth vote. And now that they are firmly ensconced in the corridors of power, the PML-N government on Wednesday introduced several youth oriented schemes worth billions in the budget for the fiscal year 2013-14. Other schemes that have been introduced also target the poorer segments of society.

“Amongst all sections our population it is our youth that must not be struck with despair and despondency,” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said in his budget speech to the National Assembly.

Dar said that these schemes were the fulfillment of promises Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had made with theyouth during his election campaign.

Some schemes, like the oneyear internship programme, had also been introduced by the previous government. Other schemes, such as the laptops for the youth and housing for the poor (Ashiyana Housing scheme)were introduced by Punjab chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, but will now be implemented on a federal level.

Prime Minister’s Youth Training Program

The first scheme is for those who have completed a 16-year degree program and are jobless. The same scheme had been launched and implanted by the previous government but it lasted for a mere two years.

All those who have completed a 16-year degree program and are below the age of 25 years will be eligible for selection under the scheme. A one-year training program will be designed for these graduates during which they will be entitled to a stipend of Rs 10,000 per month. The scheme will be administered by the ministry of education, training and standards for higher education.

Prime Minister’s Youth Skills Development Program

Under this program 25,000 young people up to the age of 25 and with the minimum qualification of middle school (eight grade), will be imparted training in a number of trades across the country. National Vocational and Technical Training Authority (NAVTEC) will manage the program in collaboration with provincial TEVTA authorities. Emphasis will be placed on such trades as are in demand aboard or will enable the graduate to become self-employed.

Small Business Loans Scheme

Under this scheme loans ranging from Rs 100,000 to Rs 2,000,000 will be available at a markup cost of 8%. The remaining cost will be borne by the government. In the first year of the scheme, 50,000 loans will be offered. The scheme will be strengthened in the light of experience gained in the first year of operation.

PM’s Scheme for Provision of Laptop

All students pursuing a degree program from one of the HEC recognised universities or institutions and meeting the merit criteria to be developed by the HEC will be eligible to get a free laptop.

Fee Reimbursement Scheme for Less Developed Areas

Under an existing scheme, bright student from less developed areas are provided tuition fee support while pursing higher education at masters’ and doctorate levels. Presently it is available to students from Balochistan, FATA, and Gilgit-Baltistan.

However, the government decided to include students from rural Sindh, Multan, Bahawalpur and DG Khan Division of south Punjab in this scheme as well, and they will be eligible for tuition fee support provided they fulfill the merit criteria.

PM’s Micro Finance Scheme

The finance minister says the purpose of this scheme was to enable men and women to undertake micro enterprise activities, and the government has allocated Rs 5 billion to launch a scheme of Qarz-eHasna (loans without markup) for this purpose. These will be made available through selected micro finance providers including Akhuwat, NRSP and Provincial RSPs. Fifty percent of the beneficiaries of the scheme will be women.

PM’s Housing Finance Scheme

Under this scheme, a mortgage facility of Rs 1.5 million to Rs 5 million will be offered at a markup rate of 8%. Fifty thousand people will benefit from the scheme.