ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Friday that the government was committed to empowering the youth by providing them with Rs3.7 billion in easy loans and expressed the hope that the scheme would strengthen the national economy.

Speaking at the first balloting ceremony of the Prime Minister`s Youth Business Loan Programme, he said that in the past up to 70pc ofPakistani youths had no access to loans and only influential businessmen were eligible to borrow from banks.

Under the programme, he said, around 36,000 loan applications had been received. Of them, 6,000 applications have been selected for balloting and 5,399 applicants would be given loans. Successful candidates will be informed through SMS.

He said applications had been selected for ballotingon the basis of the provincial quota and the target for 2,014 was 100,000 applications.

The chairperson of the loan programme, Maryam Nawaz, said that applications of female candidates from Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory would be selected through balloting but such applications from KP, Sindh, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir had been approved.-APP

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