President lauds progress in financial inclusion of differently-abled persons

KARACHI: President Dr Arif Alvi has appreciated the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for improving the accessibility infrastructure for differently-abled persons and lauded the banking sector’s efforts for increasing financial inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The president shared these views during an online meeting with the SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir, SAPM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar, senior SBP officials and presidents/CEOs of banks on Friday, according to a statement issued by the SBP.

The meeting took stock of the progress on decisions made to improve the accessibility infrastructure for persons with disabilities.

Dr Alvi noted that the unavailability of concrete information on the number of people with disabilities was a major limitation for designing comprehensive plans to improve their quality of life.

He shared that the government was working with different stakeholders to have a better estimate of the number of people with disabilities so as to expedite their identification and certification.

He, however, desired that timelines along with a clear vision must be defined clearly for the Working Group constituted by SBP in this regard, saying that such working groups may also be created at each bank.

The president stated that awareness regarding various facilities for persons with disabilities was highly imperative and that social media could play an important role in this regard.

He further said that the plight of persons with disabilities has become even more critical in the middle of the prevalent Covid-19 crisis, which was deepening the pre-existing inequalities. He appreciated SBP’s specific role in taking a number of measures to address the likely negative economic impacts on individuals, businesses and banking institutions.

“The SBP’s successful measures have reduced the negative impacts of Covid-19 on economic growth, employment generation and at the same time ensured that the banking and payment systems remained healthy,” Dr Alvi remarked.

Speaking on the occasion, SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir assured that the central bank would continue to provide regulatory support to increase financial inclusion of persons with disabilities. The banks’ presidents/CEOs also pledged their complete cooperation for this objective.

The SBP governor termed the interest and resolve of the president “a source of inspiration for all stakeholders”.

“If the society does not provide appropriate support to persons with disabilities, it leads to their economic disempowerment, depriving them of their independent economic and social lives,” Dr Baqir remarked.

He opined that persons with disabilities could economically support themselves and contribute towards the society at large when provided with adequate education, rehabilitation and financial and moral support. He said a sizable number of persons with disabilities do have the required capacity to work and contribute in the mainstream economic activities and thus successfully support their families.

The SBP governor urged the banks to be cognizant of this gap and explore avenues to make inclusion of this untapped segment of the economy a reality.

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