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KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Dr Reza Baqir Friday said that although the Covid-19 has derailed the economy but also created a lot of opportunities in various sectors of the economy.

Addressing the Pakistan Banking Award ceremony organized by the Institute of Bankers Pakistan, Baqir said that last year was very difficult and challenging for the country's economy due to Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the situation provided a number of opportunities to think and create new policies and strategies to support the people and the economy.

The Governor SBP said the SBP and banks injected liquidity in the economy during Covid-19 crisis to avoid unemployment in the country.

He said health crisis is not over as yet, but with the support of policy measures this year, we will able to put behind us Covid-19 and will be able to reap benefits of the measures. "We have moved from adversities to opportunities," he added.

He said that his concessional financing for setting up new businesses, expansion of existing projects, initiative for subsidized housing and construction and digitalization have begun to impact positively on the economy.

The Governor SBP said the central bank is to unveil a digital instant payment system on Monday (Jan 11). This easy and convenient system would revolutionize the entire payment system, he added.

The SBP has already introduced ‘Roshan Digital Account’ that enabled overseas Pakistanis to open bank accounts in Pakistan without physical presence and without compromising compliances, he said and added that so far 68,000 overseas Pakistanis have opened accounts in Pakistan. They have remitted $275 million in a few months till date.

Baqir said the SBP and banks have rescheduled loan principal repayments worth Rs657 billion in the wake of Covid-19. The banks have provided loans worth Rs238 billion to corporates for the salaries of their staff.

In addition, Rs8.4 billion concessional loans have been provided to hospitals to acquire latest equipment to combat Covid.

He said more than 90 percent small enterprises benefited from the State Bank’s scheme to provide money in different categories. "W crushed the first wave of coronavirus and will hopefully crush the 2nd wave also," he added.

During the award ceremony, Habib Bank Limited received three awards as Best Bank for Small and Medium Business, Best Investment Bank and Best Customer Franchise Bank.

The Best Micro Finance Bank award was given to Khushhali Bank. National Bank was awarded the Best Bank for Agriculture Lending award.

Faisal Bank was given the Best Emerging Bank award for 2020.

In a new category two awards were given to the companies as the Most Innovative Business Award. Karandaz and Akhoowat was jointly awarded for this category.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021