by: DR ALI AKBAR DHAKAN, KARACHI, SINDH
In late eighties, after bearing considerable resistance of federal government and State Bank, the provinces of Punjab and NWFP were able to establish provincial Banks such as Bank of Punjab and the Bank of Khyber. Both banks are functioning as commercial Banks providing people of their provinces benefits of employment, finance, training and economic development.
The management of these banks is in the hands of Provincial Governments, consequently all facilities such as commercial, developmental, financial, employment and improvement in social infrastructure etc are enjoyed by the people of provinces. Even the benefits accrued on the deposits kept by people of other provinces particularly from Sindh province go to the people of Punajb and NWFP.
In the Sindh also efforts were made to establish ‘Sindh Bank’. Initially the bureaucrats especially from those provinces working in Sindh Govt., the State Bank and the federal Government created hurdles but before the strong desire and urge of people eventually, an Act was passed by Sindh Assembly in 1995 to establish Sindh Bank but the same group of negative approach tried to keep the project in the abeyance and did not allow to install the project to provide economic and financial benefits to the people of Sindh.
Luckily Mr. Arbab Rahim, the CM could not be prevailed upon and advertisement appeared in the daily news papers regarding the establishment of Sindh bank in the years 2004-05. However another setback came when process for establishing Sindh bank was stopped with the change of regime on one or the other pretext.
It was happy occasion when the new Chief Minister of Sindh, Sayed Qaim Ali Shah in his oath taking speech announced establishment of Sindh bank in 2008. After expiry of full one year, advertisement appeared to obtain expressions of interest for establishing Sindh bank neglecting all the provisions of the existing Act which obviously showed violation of 1995 Act by the Finance department Govt. of Sindh.
Although this legal lacuna was pointed out to the team organized by the Finance department working on the project and who promised to remove it but as per news item appeared in daily Kawish dated 9th November 2009, surprisingly following serious violations of Sindh bank act 1995 have been observed.
i) According to Act of 1995, majority of shares about 51% will be of the Sindh Govt and 49% of the Private sector which meant the management should have been belonged to the Sindh Govt. but in the new proposal Sindh Govt’s share has been shown as 40% whereas private sector holding 60% share meaning thereby the management unlike Punjab and Khyber banks will remain in the hands of private sector and as such Sindh Govt. will not be managing affairs hence accruing benefits will not go to the people of Sindh.
ii) For the preparation of feasibility of the bank, 5 proposals of private parties were examined by the Finance department Govt. of Sindh through an evaluation committee comprising of five officials of Finanace department including the Secretary and the special Secretary of the finance department having a single Junior retired banker on the said committee, about Rs 3 crore have been recommended to spend which otherwise could have been prepared in about Rs.50 lac only.
iii) The Secretary Finance Mr. Pechuho is the brother-in-law of Mr. Asif Ali Zardari and the special Secretary is the daughter of the present Chief Minister of Sindh. So to be at the safe side this contract of making the feasibility report of the bank at a very higher cost of Rs 3 crore may be revisited and the proposal may be amended keeping in view all the provisions of Sindh Bank act 1995 else benefits will not go to people of Sindh.
iv) According to SBP policy, NOC can be obtained at the capital of Rs 6 billion and not Rs 2 billion as mentioned in the proposal.
v)The feasibility of the Bank has been publicized like a tender of construction for which about Rs 3 crores are proposed to be spent whereas from such a huge amount, a group of about 10 senior bankers could have been appointed with necessary office premises and equipments to perform all the functions to establish a bank.
vi)As per information Finance department has deposited about Rs 40 billion in various commercial banks. It is therefore proposed that the Sindh Government should plan to establish various agro based industries and manufacturing units in rural areas of Sindh alongside the main Roads of Sindh so that the unemployed people of province can be employed.
vii)Since 2005, in the Sindh budgets, Rs 3 billion have been earmarked each year as special relief fund for poor and vulnerable people of Sindh but it has been prefered by the Finanace department Govt. of Sindh to keep them in banks for earning interest on them and taking commissions from the banks. It is expected that this amount would have swelled to about Rs 20 billion without utilizing them for the sacred purpose of relieving the financial worries and miseries of the poor and distressed people of Sindh.This amount can also be utilized for the establishment of industrial and commercial units for the prosperity and welfare of people.
DR ALI AKBAR DHAKAN
SINDH DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION