Bank not worried if Mala Maal
scheme participants rush for withdrawals after Dec 31, 1999
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
August 02 - 08, 1999
Muslim Commercial Bank, Pakistan's leading commercial bank in the
private sector, has demonstrated a surprising display of strong relationship between
customers and the bank by attracting deposits worth over Rs12 billion just in 3 months
through its, "Mala-Maal" scheme.
The outstanding success achieved by MCB justifiably endorses its
slogan: "The Bank You Trust that makes you "Mala-Maal."
Elaborating the most outstanding feature of Mala-Maal scheme, MCB's
Executive Director, Haroon Basheer, said that it introduced a huge number of depositors
from rural areas which remained untapped. Developing of saving habit among the people is
another major achievement of the Bank and a great contribution to the banking sector as
unfortunately Pakistan has the lowest savings rate amongst the SAARC countries.
Narrating the story of success, Haroon said initially a collection
target of Rs 5 billion was set during the first month when MCB launched Mala-Mala scheme
in April,1999. "To tell you the truth, the response was beyond the expectations. The
collection of Rs7.5 billion in the first month was far ahead of the target," Haroon
observed with a pride on achievement.
The participation from rural population was so overwhelming that
amongst different circles of MCB including Karachi, Lahore and Sargodha, the later took
the lead to hit the collection target of Rs 1 billion which was followed by Lahore and
Karachi respectively. Sargodha was on top of the Billionaire Club of the
Showing his cool on SBP's decision of putting restrictions on prize
schemes, Haroon Basheer said: "MCB enjoys a strong deposit base of Rs130 billion.
Hence, the Bank is not worried about massive withdrawals by the depositors, the MCB has a
deep rooted participation in the market which is reflected into its deposit base and
advances amounting to Rs 64 billion."
The prize schemes are being phased out as directed by the State Bank of
Pakistan which has given a deadline of Dec 31, 1999 to do away with these schemes.
Consequently, the market is likely to be flooded with money even if 50-60 per cent
withdrawals take place which may add to inflationary pressures.
"In order to serve the depositors under Mala-Maal scheme and also
to retain the optimum size of deposits, MCB is coming out with two new products shortly,
probably within 15 days," said Haroon Basheer. Out of the two deposit schemes, one is
asset based product for small investors while another is a term deposit scheme. Both the
products have been specially designed to help the depositors of Mala-Maal scheme to
productively channelize their deposits through forthcoming profitable schemes. Currently,
MCB is busy in finalizing details of these schemes before formal announcement.
Spelling out MCB's constant efforts to bring in sophistication into
banking skills, Haroon said that the management was fully aware of the challenges of the
profession. Besides maintaining high level market related training, all available
resources are being utilized to meet the challenges of the profession through brain
storming of the staff. MCB has an approach to induct fresh blood in its system with a view
to cater for future needs. Recently a new batch of management trainees was selected
strictly on merit. After thorough training, these officers have been inducted in various
divisions and branches. Attention was paid to upgrade operation and managerial skills of
staff and a number of professional courses were conducted at MCB staff and training
institutes. The bank also continues its program of hiring of senior level banking
executives from market to use their expertise and to provide guidance to the fresh blood
injected into its system.
The MCB, has the largest network of Auto Teller Machines (ATMs) in
Pakistan. MCB ATMs have been installed at airports, major business centres, leading gas
stations and other important places all over the country. Currently 70 ATMs are in
operation. "The Bank has a plan to increase the number upto 100 by the end of
1999," Haroon said.
"The commercial cities of Pakistan like Faisalabad and Multan and
Hyderabad/Sukkur recently have already been added on ATM Network while plans are in the
offing to expand the Network to other major cities covering all the four provinces thereby
providing the ATM facilities at a true national coverage and maintaining leadership in
this segment," Haroon observed.
The Government has levied a 1.5 per cent excise duty on credit cards.
Since the banks are not allowed to pass it on to the customers, the card issuing companies
are finding it difficult to accommodate the service expenses.
Similarly, on the charged Cards where the banking companies spread is
almost 1.83 per cent, the CBR has imposed 2 per cent excise duty which is again affecting
the commercial viability of the scheme. The Association of Credit Card Companies is
considering to move a presentation to the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) either to get it
removed or permission to pass it on to the customers so that these service oriented
facilities could become economically viable for the banks.