Frozen in time – The National Savings Organisation
There must be something uniquely queer with ordinary Pakistanis. They voluntarily choose to park their savings in National Saving Centres instead of the tax-free Panama and other off-shore havens. My research spread over many years and hundreds of interviews suggests some startling hitherto undiscovered benefits of the National Savings.
Firstly there are huge medical benefits surreptitiously built into the nature of National Saving Schemes. They keep the senior citizens physically active and mentally alert, anxiously awaiting the due date for collection of monthly profits. The Schemes create a pastime for millions who would otherwise die of idleness, boredom and nothing to look forward to.
The Nationals Saving Schemes operate hand-in-glove with our transport industry, generating millions of (completely avoidable) bus, car and rickshaw trips every month. A compulsory monthly outing is surely a great healer for mind and body. The Saving Centres also act like clubs and community centres, providing a monthly opportunity for people to socialise and talk to others who also suffer from similar ailments. This takes away the jibe from hours of torturous waiting as the government clerks juggle huge registers and punch dusty calculators.
The bureaucrats of Pakistan, who often keep their own money abroad, have intentionally kept this system unchanged for the past 70 years. There would be no Grade 20 and 21 officials in the National Savings, if the 3377 employees and 367 branches were not engaged in dealing with millions of begging and pleading customers. These officials are indeed the most shameful and reprehensible face of Pakistan.
For the past three decades the National Savings Organisation has been hoodwinking the people of Pakistan by making false promises of its planned computerization. All they needed was to ask each customer to specify a bank and an account number at which the profits could be automatically credited every month. Customers could receive an auto-generated SMS to confirm the transaction.
Can a critical change happen in a country where the ruling elite stashes its ‘loot’ in foreign lands while the ordinary citizens undergo agonising processes to receive monthly profits on their lifetime savings which are often their only subsistence.