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Date Posted: 21:33:33 08/31/07 Fri
Author: Javed

By Javed – 02 November 2006

Major ® Anwar Pasha Lahore through his letter to editor (22 October 2006) has cried how the Government was advising people to save but on the other hand opening of a Bank Account has become a hill task difficult as each Bank has prescribed its own procedures & conditions and such questions are asked which only Police in Police Station does.

The fact is for the last 10-15 years under some unknown planning the real domestic savings which are the real back bone of a financially developing country are being killed. Increasing service charges, new levies like excise duty on banking services, increasing minimum balance restrictions and reducing profits to account holders etc all are steps towards this planning. Despite my best efforts I am unable to get answer to a billion dollars question that when there were no service charges the Banks were giving 6-8% profit but today when their income and profits have increased only and only because of pick pocketing the customers under service charges, un-publicised terms, then why no profits.

1984 to 1990 it was a sort of my hobby to convince and press the middle and lower class Pakistanis working in Bahrain to keep their savings in Pakistan. For this I used to arrange account opening forms from Pakistan and forward back to Pakistan completed forms of labour class at my own expense. Seeing my interest later head offices of Habib and United bank provided me these Form in bulk. To the best of my memories during this period more than 4000 accounts through me were opened in these Banks and National Savings. At start of 1990s I discarded that “hobby”.

There had been different account opening procedures causing practical problem. On my taking up the issue in 1990 through the office fo the Federal Ombudsman a uniformed standard account opening procedure was adopted and the demised Pakistan Banking Council circulated it. Before filing a reference with Federal Ombudsman, sitting in Bahrain I opened about a dozen accounts with Rs. 200 or Rs. 500 initial deposits with Habib Bank and UBL at Faisalabad, Sialkot, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad etc just to prove my point of views. All these accounts were opened by mail without any remotest objection from any quarter and most of these without any introducers. For such accounts from Non Residents the copies of their Passports and ID Card were taken as the document required.

19 October 2006 I visited the University Road Karachi branch of “MyBank”. Though I have never worked in any Bank but my general knowledge about Banking has well been acknowledged officially. On my taking up the issues of public concern some amendments had in the past been made eg in Foreign Exchange rules. In 1990 my suggested and drafted proforma without even a single word amendment was included in new account opening Forms by all Banks in Pakistan. In my 35 years service life I had never heard of a question and I could not believe it when the lady dealing with Account Opening Forms in this Bank enquired from me “Why you want to open account in our Bank”. I could not believe my ears. After crossing this hurdle I had to see her senior and told him that I am a non resident and on visit to Karachi and that I want to open my account jointly with my wife hence I will send my Form duly completed from abroad on my return. The officer blankly told me no account can be opened unless you and your wife sign personally here before me. I tried to see the Manager but he was busying on his mobile “ho ha” with three other persons.

The Government of His Excellency General Musharraf is advising and appealing Overseas Pakistanis to invest in Pakistan. The first form of investment is having a bank account. On the other hand perhaps HE the President is not aware the bureaucracy who is to implement His Excellency’s very sincere wishes have other wishes. On the pretext of so called security they can not open Savings accounts of Overseas Pakistanis unless these Pakistan in next 2-3 years visit Pakistan. Thus these banks in fact advise Overseas Pakistanis keep for such time your savings abroad. Non residents in no case can come on high expense to Pakistan to personally present themselves. During my 23 years stay during which thousands of accounts in Pakistan were opened I have not heard even a single case.

Hold your breath. A year back for ATM purposes I wish to maintain an account with MCB. I sent my forms duly completed with copies of Passport and NIC to Hassan Square Karachi Branch and not only my account was opened but my ATM Card was also issued.

The naked truth is that against the tall claims of reforming the system, making the life of public easy from bureaucratic procedures for daily life, the life of people are being made more and more miserable. The simple act of bank account opening which for decades took merely a few minutes today can take days with no surety one will succeed. Those who actually created the mess for public life are made heads of reforms commission then what else can be expected. Nawaz Sharif once raised a similar slogan of making public life at ease. Within a month from his own home town the Sui Gas authorities made the life easy for public by introduction a new condition the applicants of new connections to attach the paid copy of gas bill of next neigbhour.

Privatisation and development of privatized institutions bring ease to public life, is our claim. My foot privatization.

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