NOW IS THE TIME TO OVERHAUL NATIONAL SAVING SCHEMES

BANKS SUCCESSFULLY ATTRACTING DEPOSITORS

SAIRA BANO
Nov 10 - 16, 2008

In this era of Information & Communication Technology, the world has become a GLOBAL VILLAGE, which in the process has created an atmosphere of cut-throat competition thus proving Charles Darwin's theory, "Survival of the Fittest" correct. This applies not only to individuals and groups but also to the nation as a whole. Self-Reliance is one of the prime criteria to survive in today's dynamic world. As such the paramount importance of national saving cannot be underestimated, but unfortunately, the national saving rate in our country is one of the lowest in the world as most of our people live on deficit financing. This is due to a number of reasons including low incomes, high inflation rate, ineffective National Saving Schemes just to name a few.

The National Saving Schemes have the potential to play a key role in improving national saving rate however no desired results so far achieved due to lack of attraction in NSS products offered to the investors as well as ineffective follow up by the management. In order to encourage people to save more, there is an urgent need to be innovative and take revolutionary steps to make saving schemes more attractive, lucrative, and convenient for the people. Currently in all National Saving Centers there is no marketing concept at all. Further the staff available at such centers is monopolistic and their attitudes are non professional and harsh at times. All of these factors lead to discourage prospective investors from investing their hard earned money in such schemes. This in turn forces them to consider other alternatives but at the end, most of them are trapped in unauthorized business.

As a matter of fact, Pakistan at present is in a desperate need for national saving and therefore, it is the right time to outsource NCSs services to the private sector by appointing PRIMARY DEALERS on appropriate terms and conditions preferably prescribed by the concerned authorities. Once the original certificates and prize bonds are issued by PRIMARY DEALERS, Government will then have to issue separate licenses for the secondary market dealership (again on workable and legalized terms & conditions). These secondary market dealers would deal in already issued saving certificates and prize bonds directly to public within the prescribed framework and on same lines as for example; our Stock Exchange is operating as a secondary market of various companies' stocks and securities.

As a result of the above two steps, Government will not only be able to save billions of rupees in its administrative cost through downsizing of unnecessary staff and thus avoid corruption and inefficiency that is quite evident in the current set up of the NSCs. On the contrary, huge funds can also be mobilized through active role of the private sector in the said process. This process would surely enable the Government to achieve much more than the set saving target of Rs. 150 billion for the fiscal year 2008-09 and hence look for much higher targets in the future. Moreover as the business would be transferred to the private sector, they will strive to survive in the competitive environment by providing better and better services to the investors. This improvement would surely encourage people to invest who were earlier reluctant to do so. This outsourcing would also help government a great deal to overcome its various economic & financial chaos while the benefit would ultimately be passed on to the inflation infected people of Pakistan.

As we are well aware that since ICT has captured every single feature of economy, there is also an intense need to upgrade the whole system of National Savings on the latest technologies which can be conveniently managed and monitored through ICT particularly through tailor made software. This would also create an updated, networked and reliable database of all national saving statistics. These systems will be introduced once the private sector gets control of this line of business.

The said process, if implemented, would not only benefit a common man who can utilize the money in hand to generate profit instead of keeping it idle but it would ultimately bring the Government in a far better position to reduce its reliance on external financial agencies & institutions thus availing financing from its own people at most economical rates leading to a great extent towards SELF-RELIANCE.

BANKISLAMI JOIN HANDS WITH PAK-QATAR FAMILY TAKAFUL AND FWU AG

BankIslami , Pakistan's fastest growing Islamic Bank, has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Pak-Qatar Family Takaful Limited (PQFTL), and FWU AG.

Hasan Aziz Bilgrami, CEO BankIslami, emphasized that the agreement will lay the foundation for BankIslami to launch Pakistan's first Shari'ah compliant Bancassurance (BancaTakaful) products across its rapidly growing branch network.

These products will provide families with long term savings and protection plans specifically catered to fulfill their future needs such as marriage and higher education for children, and financial independence and security after retirement.

BankIslami is Pakistan's fastest growing dedicated Islamic Bank. Along with its target to be at over 100 branches by the end of 2008, it also has a rapidly growing Shari'ah compliant product menu which is certified by a distinguished Shari'ah Supervisory Board headed by Justice (R) Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani. "Providing a one-stop-shop for all your shariah compliant financial needs is our vision and this is an important step towards realizing it" Hasan explained.

Pak-Qatar Family Takaful, the pioneers of Family Takaful in Pakistan , is sponsored by some of the strongest financial institutions in the State of Qatar. The company is offering need based Takaful products and rapidly expanding its distribution network across the country. "This is a step forward towards realizing our vision of providing financial protection to everyone, through Takaful," said P. Ahmed, CEO of PQFTL, in the signing ceremony.

The FWU Group has its Headquarters in Munich and is a recognized "Global Leader in Takaful expertise", winning six Takaful Industry Awards in the past 2 years. It facilitates distribution of Family Takaful and Unit linked Savings products via a web based Point of Sale and administration system. Its International Takaful network includes offices in Karachi, Dubai , Kuala Lumpur and Luxembourg.