CREDIBILITY OF OFFICIAL WORDS TODAY-By Muhammad Javed


javed f3It appears every authority worth of its salt has today taken as guaranteed to take the ordinary citizens of Pakistan as completely fools. This tendency is more particular amongst the so called monitoring or regulatory authorities like SECP, NEPRA, SBP etc.  I recently asked the Muslim Commercial Bank to convert my account into a Basic Banking Account.  The Branch informed me that since my account was a “Branchless Account” hence my request can not be accepted.  A “Branchless” account?   I first time listened this word.  My Account is PLS from the day one with the same Branch situated at Hassan Square and account is as was opened within the 4 walls of the same Branch so how it became a “Branchless”.  Against this I approached the Banking Mohtasib who without reverting back affording me any opportunity to submit my counter argument as is the universal practice in any justice system even in any banana state, forthwith agreed with the contention of the MCB and informed me the Bank was right and should be satisfied.  Had I been satisfied with the reply of the Branch why the hell then should I had spent time and money on filing a complaint not less than an ombudsman.  The SBP Banking Policy Department instead of taking the matter as it being a monitoring and controlling authority to evaluate what the account holder contends and what the Bank says and then arrive at its own decision,  merely informed me that the Bank has informed that my account can not be converted into a Basic Banking Account BBA and ombudsman hoped I would be satisfied now.   What the hell it is?  I reminded the SBP that it was a regulatory body hence it is not supposed to tell me what the bank “says” rather its primary duty was to examine the views/arguments both of the complainant and the Bank and then judiciously declare its verdict keeping in view the official prescribed rules  on the matter.   A columnist rightly a few months back stated the “national shame” today was no word in our dictionary.

 

The State Bank of Pakistan informs me vide its letter BPRD(SLD-07)/Misc/14531/2009/5553 dated 20 August 2009 that they have not issued standing instructions regarding converting full service banking account into basic banking account BBA).

 

The Bank of Punjab, United Bank Limited, MCB etc websites introduce Basic Banking Account (BBA) with highlights no service charge, no minimum balance limit, 2 withdrawals a week, 

 

A State Bank of Pakistan Circular No. 30 of 2005 dated November 29,2005 is before me issued to all Banks in Pakistan entitled “Introduction of basic banking account”.   It reads that all commercial banks operating in Pakistan will introduce Basic Banking Accounts (BBA) facility with the features ….  Clause (g) of this Circular reads  “For the existing banking accounts, banks may get the consent of all their customers whether they wish to maintain a BBA with them or a regular full service banking account with the its accompanying terms. The circular further adds that in case an account holder does not give his/her consent for a BBA, his/her account will be treated as a regular full service banking account.  The circular is signed by Syed Irgan Ali, Sr. Joint Director.  The reading of this circular clearly shows that every Branch was required to inform its existing account holders in November 2005 that BBA system has been introduced if they wish they can opt it. It will well know a fact not a single branch in Pakistan of any Bank ever conveyed this information for obvious reasons to their existing account holders.  Due to space limit I refrain from quoting dates, press clippings etc reading how those knew about BBA the Branches were discouraging people.  A Daily’s last year survey is before me telling names and places of people who narrated who Branch Manager refused them converting their account into BBA.

 

Daily DAWN through its Staff Reporter 30 November 2005 reported that Governor SBP in a meeting with the media announced that the SBP has asked all banks operating in Pakistan to introduce , with immediate effects, the BBA system.  To this effect the SBP has issued a press release for this says DAWN.  Daily Times Lahore 22 February 2006 reported that SBP rejected a Pakistan Banks Association proposal  requesting extension for implementation of BBA. The then SBP Governor according to report the central bank refused “point blank”.  As per a report appearing in different newspapers on September 28, 2007 the SBP was encouraging common people to open accounts with small money in BBAs. It also quoted that in a recent seminar the foreign bankers expresses surprise that the banking industry in Pakistan has only 5 million accounts in a population of 160 million which according to these foreign financial experts was a proof of low banking and economic activity. According to Business Recorder May 21, 2009 the Deputy Governor SBP Yasmeen Anwar delivering a key note address at the launch of World Bank/s Study on Access to Finance for the Underserved and Small Enterprises very proudly told the audience that SBP has already introduced BBA since November 2005 whereby all commercial banks in Pakistan were required to offer BBAs to facilitate low income groups in Pakistan.  An etc I have many other clipping.

 

Reading of all the above news items, the SBP Circular, extracts of statements of the SBP, speech of the Dy. Governor all clearly indicates the SBP issued a standard order introducing BBA in as much as allowing anyone to get his already open account converted into new BBA and same SBP in line with the Banks and in line with the policy of these commercial banks today is trying to fool this citizen by lies that it has not issued any instructions to the Banks on this regard. 

 

These so called regulatory bodies sometime just for newspapers purpose do announce steps which appear to be for the welfare of the common man but actually mostly these are only a temporary word of mouth only.  Practically these regulatory bodies in fact have been made and are working to protect the elite.  The example is above repeatedly announcements for BBA and at the same time from the same mouth officially telling no such instruction has been issued.  Nepra is another example. For 5-6 months I was billed more than tipple in excess. The KESC informed that due to presence of mad dog in the area the meter reader could not go and NEPRA the so called regulatory body “expected” that this reply of businessman KESC would be satisfactory to this citizen whose pocket was pickpocketed.

 

Taking note of dismissal of Lahore Zoo wardens, wrong declaring only one student on third position, three four suo motos on sugar etc are just waste of time.  Have these produced any practical benefit to the community in large?  The SC the other day said only lower level are punished. So many police cases have been taken suo moto note of, has any big policeman being punished?  Such suo moto notices will never make any dent for the betterment unless the real issue namely the ever diminishing fear of any sort of accountability is not seriously taken of and this BBA is one such issue.  The issue is not that this individual has been refused conversion of account but as to how SBP seniors have no fear whatsoever.  

 

            Country’s premier financial regulatory body issues official circular, its head announces in the press conference with pride about introduction of a scheme but now on an official letter head says it has not issued any such instruction, what psychological effect it will leave to a common man like me?  With this psychology if I do not believe or trust on today’s government statements namely  that ” Malik denies deal, confirms players” and  “FO denies presence of Blackwater”, than am I on fault?

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