Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday launched a loan program for youth to start their own business. The "Youth Business Loans" is designed to provide subsidized financing at an 8 percent mark-up per annum for 100,000 beneficiaries through the state-run National Bank of Pakistan and First Women Bank. The total mark up rate would be 15 percent but the government would pay the remaining 7 percent on behalf of applicants. Those falling in the age group of 21 and 45 years are eligible to apply for loans from 100,000 to 2 million rupees. Small business loans with tenure up to seven years plus one year grace period and a debt-equity ratio of 90:10 will be disbursed across the country including four provinces, northern Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and the insurgency- hit Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Speaking at the launching ceremony, Prime Minister Sharif said he is fulfilling the commitments made with the youth during the election campaign. "Youth in other countries are backbone of their economies and there is no reason that youth who constitute 60 percent of our population should not take us to zenith of progress and development," he said. He told the gathering that his government has chalked out a strategy to privatize state entities as it is not the job of the government to run factories rather it should concentrate on improving law and order situation, weeding out terrorism, addressing sectarianism and improving the image of the country. The prime minister said loans would be extended to youth purely on merit through ballot and there would be no discretionary quota of anyone. He said over hundred branches of the concerned banks would make their sovereign decision and also record reasons for acceptance or rejection of the applications. Chairperson of the Youth Business Loans Maryam Nawaz said there are only three conditions for the applicants - they should be Pakistani and holder of valid Computerized National Identity Card and should have a guarantor. Forms of the Youth Business Loans would be available from Monday and these would be issued free of cost.