Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has approved launching of Punjab Employment Scheme worth more than Rs 30 billion to provide soft loans on easy terms in the province. Presiding over a meeting here, he said that the scheme was aimed at developing small and medium enterprises and restoration of corona-affected businesses in the province. Under the scheme, soft loan up to Rs 10 million would be provided for existing business or launch of the new venture. Transgender community along with men and women were eligible to apply as the rate of mark-up for womenfolk was kept less, he added. Usman Buzdar ordered for launching the scheme in the current month as businesses had been affected due to coronavirus pandemic and the government was going to provide a major relief to them. He ordered for further reducing the mark-up rate along with the processing of applications in the minimum possible time period. Special initiatives should be included in the scheme to boost the rural economy, the CM added. The provision of soft loans facility would boost the industrial sector, he added.Earlier, the CM was briefed about the salient features of the scheme and was informed that an online portal has also been created in collaboration with the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) for the purpose. Provincial Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Urbanisation, Chairman Planning and Development (P&D), secretaries of finance and industries departments attended the meeting while Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht and the Bank of the Punjab (BoP) president participated through video-link.Meanwhile, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar chaired a meeting at Punjab Assembly here on Tuesday about easing the process of setting up new cement factories in the province. He directed to make easy the complicated and lengthy process of establishing cement factories as PTI government is creating ease of doing business. The easy process of establishing cement factories will boost investment and new job opportunities, he added. He directed to link the issuance of NOC for establishing a cement factory with the timeline as some departments unnecessarily delay the issuance of NOCs. The issuance of NOC in the minimum of time should be ensured under rules and regulations, the CM added. He also directed to constitute a supervisory committee to present its recommendations for easing the process and issuance of NOCs. He reiterated that investors will be provided every facility and action will be initiated against the concerned officials for any unnecessary delay. “I will personally review all matters after every 15 days,” the CM added.The CM was told that 23 applications have been submitted to the Punjab government for establishing new cement plants and a portal has also been developed by the industries department. Provincial Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal, ACS (U&I), secretaries of irrigation, industries, mines & mineral, environment and community development departments and others attended the meeting.Separately, Speaker Punjab Assembly Ch Pervez Elahi met with Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar at assembly chamber and discussed matters of mutual interest. Talking on the occasion, Usman Buzdar said that PML (Q) is an ally and both will continue to serve the masses. The relationship with the allied party will be stronger every coming day. The two-year performance is evident to the people, he added. The conspirators are opposing the development of the province and new drama in the garb of APC will be failed, the CM further added. Ch. Pervez Elahi stated that no hurdle will be allowed in the journey of public service and both will continue to work jointly for providing relief to the masses because public service is a collective agenda.