President Dr Arif Alvi has appreciated the efforts of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and performance of banks in improving the accessibility infrastructure at banks for differently-abled persons and lauded their efforts for increasing financial inclusion of persons with disabilities. The president shared his view in an online meeting with the SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir, SAPM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety, Dr Sania Nishtar, senior SBP officials and Presidents/CEOs of banks on Friday, according to a statement issued by the SBP. The meeting took stock of the progress on decisions made for improving the accessibility infrastructure for persons with disabilities. The President also appreciated the establishment of a Working Group by SBP for taking up the agenda. Dr Alvi said that the unavailability of concrete information on the number of people with disabilities is a major limitation for designing comprehensive plans to improve their quality of life. He shared that the government is working with different stakeholders to have a better estimate of the number of people with disabilities that will help their identification and certification. He, however, desired that timelines along with a clear vision must be defined clearly for the Working Group. He further emphasised that such working groups may also be created at each bank. He stated that creating awareness regarding various facilities for persons with disabilities is highly imperative and social media can play an important role in this regard. The President further said that the plight of persons with disabilities has become even more critical in the middle of the prevalent COVID 19 crisis that is deepening pre-existing inequalities. He appreciated SBP’s specific role in taking a number of measures to address the likely negative economic impacts on individuals, businesses and banking institutions. The SBP’s successful measures have reduced the negative impacts of COVID-19 on economic growth, employment generation and at the same time ensured that the banking and payment systems remain healthy, he said. Governor SBP Dr Reza Baqir assured that SBP would continue providing its full regulatory support to increase financial inclusion of persons with disabilities. The banks’ presidents/CEOs also pledged their complete cooperation for this objective. The SBP governor appreciated the exceptional interest and resolve of the President of Pakistan as a source of inspiration for all the stakeholders. He said that if the society does not provide appropriate support to persons with disabilities, it leads to their economic disempowerment depriving them of their independent economic and social lives. He remarked that persons with disabilities could economically support themselves and contribute towards the society at large when provided with adequate education, rehabilitation and financial and moral support. He emphasised that a sizable number of persons with disabilities do have the required capacity to work and contribute in the mainstream economic activities and thus successfully support their families. He urged the banks to be cognizant of this gap and explore avenues to make inclusion of this untapped segment of the economy a reality.