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Awards for excellence - Pakistan

Best bank:

Muslim Commercial Bank

General Pervez Musharraf, or since June 20 President Musharraf, and his technocrats and businessmen are making a difference in the battle to clean up the financial sector. Consolidation is being pushed by the central bank. It believes the banking industry is far too fragmented. In an attempt to force the issue the capital adequacy requirement of commercial and investment banks is being raised.

At the moment it stands at PRs500 million ($8 million), increasing to PRs750 million by the end of the year. Although painful, this will lead to stronger banks.

Cronyism, which was so rampant under the democratically elected administrations of the past, led the government banks to build up impressive portfolios of bad assets. It has all but been stamped out.

Estimates for the sector's non-performing loans range between 40% and 20% of the banks' portfolio. These will decrease. Bankers are now held accountable for the loans they make and in a country not famed for its comfortable jails, they will definitely be taking more care about their lending practices.

Although Pakistan experienced disinvestment in 1998 after deciding to test nuclear weapons, this did its domestic banks a favour.

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