KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan introduced a comprehensive policy to enhance the financial inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) on Monday. President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi as chief guest launched the policy.
This policy initiative aims at improving financial independence for PWDs by improving access to banking services as well as providing opportunities to contribute as bank employees.
The policy has been developed in collaboration with banks and NGOs dedicated to improving the lives of PWDs. In this context, SBP’s instructions now require the board of directors of banks to approve a policy and strategy framework for the financial inclusion of PWDs, while management will ensure its implementation.
Under the policy framework, banks will offer products and services catering to the special needs of all categories of PWDs including the physically handicapped, visually impaired and those with hearing and speech disabilities.
Banks have been asked to ensure the availability of essential forms and documents in Braille, sign language interpretation services and ramps at the entrances of their branches and ATM vestibules.
An important feature of the policy requires banks to meet prescribed job quota for PWDs and align human resource policies and practices to cater to their specific needs throughout the career cycle.
In order to encourage female PWDs, the job quota for PWDs at banks shall ensure at least a 25 per cent share for women with disabilities.
President Alvi said that the launch of the new policy by SBP will contribute significantly in alleviating the difficulties faced by PWDs, which will enhance their confidence in the financial system significantly.
SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir said that the central bank will work with banks to support the goal that PWDs have equal access and opportunity to participate in economic activities. He emphasized that banks should design and deliver products and services that cater to the special needs of PWDs and make physical and assistive technological infrastructure available for their facilitation.
The First Lady of Pakistan, Samina Arif Alvi, on Monday distributed cheques of interest-free loans among differently-abled persons here at Governor House.
Mrs Alvi said the government was striving to help the disabled persons and a programme was under way to provide loans and scholarships to PWDs.
She said 15pc of the total population was reported as disabled in a survey held recently. It was the need of the hour to disseminate information among the PWDs to benefit from the loans and scholarship programme, she said, and added that disabled-friendly parks and grounds were being constructed.
Appreciating the efforts made by Akhuwat Foundation, she said the foundation had given cheques to 500 disabled persons.