Switzerland set to share details on Pakistan cash stashed in banks

Dar tells NA a new treaty is to be signed on March 21

Danish Hussain March 09, 2017
A Swiss flag is pictured next to the Jet d'Eau (water fountain), and the Lake Leman from the St-Pierre Cathedrale in Geneva June 5, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will soon formally sign a new treaty with Switzerland to pave way for the exchange of information on the undeclared wealth stashed in Swiss banks.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar informed the National Assembly on Wednesday that the Avoidance of Double Taxation treaty will be signed on March 21 as a formal invitation from Switzerland has been received in Islamabad.

Pakistani cash in Swiss banks pulled out?

“It took Pakistan almost three years to negotiate and upgrade the existing treaty. The new treaty will enable the country to get information about undeclared money stashed in Swiss banks by Pakistanis,” Dar said in a policy statement.

He said Switzerland had earlier attached four demands as prerequisites for signing this treaty. Pakistan had first informally accepted these demands, but later termed them unacceptable.

The demands were related to granting the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Switzerland in respect of lowering tax rates on interest, royalty, shipping, and reduction in the tax exemption limit — from 18,000 Swiss francs to 14,500 francs — on Pakistani nationals, including students living in Switzerland.

“Pakistan had informally agreed to extend these favours but later we decided to reopen negotiations and to persuade Swiss authorities to ratify the treaty with Pakistan without attaching any preconditions,” he said.

Eventually, on March 2 Bern formally conveyed to Islamabad that it was ready to sign the treaty unconditionally. “Pakistan has confirmed the March 21 signing date. Now, Pakistan is going to sign the exchange of information treaty which is globally acceptable,” he added.

The minister informed the house about the reasons which forced Switzerland to sign the treaty unconditionally. He said as a parallel option, in January 2014 Pakistan initiated the process of becoming a member of the Multilateral Convention on Tax Matters with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

After fulfilling all the requirements Pakistan was granted a membership of the OECD in September 2016. Pakistan is 104th member of the OECD and its membership will operationalise next year.

Pakistan overtakes India in money stashed in Swiss banks

“The OECD is a relatively bigger forum for auto spontaneous exchange of information among member countries,” Dar said, adding that when Pakistan became the OECD member, the Swiss government reconsidered its conditions and announced to sign this new treaty with Pakistan.

“Under the new treaty it will become impossible for Pakistanis to keep tax evaded money in these countries,” he said.

Resolution on International Women’s Day

Celebrating International Women’s Day, the National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to support women’s equal rights.

During the sitting that lasted for around four-and-a-half hours, the lower house witnessed introduction of two constitutional amendment bills and a walkout by opposition parties staged for not giving floor to a PPP MNA, Dr Nafeesa Shah, who wanted to speak in connection with the Women’s Day.

Following the walkout, the women legislators were given enough time to speak individually to highlight the importance of the day.

According to a report on performance of women parliamentarians issued on Wednesday by the Free and Fair Election Network’s (Fafen), women MNAs contributed more than 38 per cent agenda to parliamentary business during 2016-17 thus outperforming their male counterparts.

Govt borrows $408m from Swiss financial group amid transparency concerns

However, a significantly low attendance of the women MNAs was witnessed when the National Assembly adopted a resolution to support women on Wednesday.

Through this resolution, the house recognised that a lot needed to be done to create an enabling, and conducive environment for empowerment and protection of women as guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan.

It also celebrated all the women, who have contributed to the democratic struggle in the country and condemned all acts of injustice, discrimination and violence against women.

In their speeches, the women MNAs complained about unavailability of developmental funds for them and a less-than-equal treatment of women MPs in comparison with their male counterparts.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2017.


Shahid | 7 years ago | Reply @Aqeel: Brilliant!
kemosabe | 7 years ago | Reply @Shaheryar: It may not make any difference if the money has been ferreted away in the interim since what the authorities will use is reliable, accurate, and actionable information on these accounts to, in theory, impose crushing retroactive penalties regardless of whether the money is still physically there after, say, 20 days.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ