Punjab govt approves Rs361.49m interest-free loan for 11 judges


federal funding

LAHORE: In a notable development, the Punjab caretaker government has sanctioned a substantial sum of Rs361.49 million for the provision of interest-free loans to 11 judges serving in the Lahore High Court. These funds are intended to support the judges in their pursuit of acquiring or constructing residential properties.

The judges had expressed their interest in accessing an interest-free loan equivalent to 36 times their basic monthly salaries, each of which amounts to Rs912,862, according to Dawn.

This significant approval for the disbursement of the loans has been granted by the provincial cabinet standing committee for finance.

Two of the judges have already availed themselves of this unique financial assistance, each receiving a loan amounting to Rs32.86 million.

The beneficiaries of this interest-free loan programme are Justice Ahmad Nadeem Arshad, Justice Safdar Saleem Shahid, Justice Rasaal Hasan Syed, Justice Shakil Ahmad, Justice Muhammad Tariq Nadeem, Justice Muhammad Amjad Rafique, Justice Abid Hussain Chattha, Justice Anwar Hussain, Justice Ali Zia Bajwa, Justice Muhammad Raza Qureshi, and Justice Raheel Kamran.

This loan disbursement is a one-time event and will be repaid through a monthly deduction of one-fourth (25 per cent) of the judges’ basic salaries. Ultimately, this interest-free loan will be fully recovered over a period of 12 years, even as some of the judges will retire in varying timeframes ranging from one to six, nine, and eleven years.

Insiders within the Punjab caretaker cabinet have noted that this instance represents an unprecedented move, as it involves the provision of an interest-free loan that will be reimbursed through deductions from the judges’ pensions.

A provincial minister revealed to Dawn that among the beneficiary judges is one who had previously issued a stay order regarding the fixation of the per-kilogram price of sugar.

It is worth mentioning that the Punjab government was previously disbursing a substantial subsidy of Rs3.1 billion to both the higher and subordinate judiciary under the category of electricity utility allowance. The formula for calculating this allowance for judges specifies that if a judge incurs an electricity bill of Rs100,000, they are liable to pay half of the amount, with the remainder being covered under the allowance.

In total, the Punjab government has been shouldering a significant subsidy burden of Rs4.4 billion, which includes Rs1.1 billion for the employees of the Punjab civil secretariat, Rs80 million for the Punjab Chief Minister’s residence and office, and Rs33.3 million for the Governor’s House.

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