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SBP announces 'Basic Banking Accounts' scheme

KARACHI (November 30 2005): The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has introduced 'Basic Banking Account' (BBA) to help the poor masses of Pakistan to avail the banking services, without putting large amounts in the banks. The central bank has asked all commercial banks to implement this type of account immediately.

BBA can be opened in any bank, operating in Pakistan, with Rs 1000 only. The account would prove beneficial for low-income groups because no fee would be charged for maintaining a BBA. It would be a non-remunerative account and would have no minimum balance requirement. A BBA account, which has zero balance continuously for six months, would be closed.

The account would have the facility for maximum two deposit transactions and two withdrawals with cheques, free of charge, through cash/clearing per month. The banks' ATMs would allow unlimited and free of charge withdrawals. If the BBA accountholders withdraw through other banks' the other bank might charge some nominal amount from the accountholders.

For the existing banking accounts, the banks might get the consent of their customers if they wish to maintain a BBA with them or a regular full-service banking account with its terms and conditions.

In case an accountholder does not give his or her consent for a BBA, the account would be treated as regular, full-service banking account. The statement of the accounts would be issued yearly.

The features in the BBA account represent the minimum set of services that the banks would provide to BBA accountholders. The banks will be free to add some more services if they deem fit for their banks. The banks would be free to charge for any service/transaction over the minimum set of services of BBA, if they wished.

The commercial banks have been asked to publicise the new banking facility and implement it by February 28, 2006. Any violation of SBP instructions would invoke penal provisions under Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962, SBP said.

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