ISLAMABAD: Overseas Pakistanis are the country’s assets and the government is striving to provide facilities to them, said Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Chairing a meeting on remittances on Tuesday, he directed Special Assistant to PM for Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari to adopt policies which would not only facilitate the overseas Pakistanis, but would also provide facilities to their families in health care, education and other areas in the country.
The meeting allowed, in principle, the establishment of National Challenges Bank.
Giving a briefing about the present status of remittances from overseas Pakistanis, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa said during first six months of the current fiscal year, the remittances increased 12.5% and expressed hope that the $22-billion annual target set for the current fiscal year would be met easily.
Informing the meeting about the various steps initiated for the promotion of remittances, the SBP governor said a significant improvement in remittances had been seen after giving incentives to banks, promotion of M-Wallet scheme and relaxation in value-added tax on remittances. Talking about the M-Wallet scheme, he said $25 million was received under the scheme in December 2018 while in January 2019 $30.5 million came. In the 11-month period (January-November 2018), the remittances received under the scheme were just $54.7 million.
He told the meeting that the blockchain technology was being used to discourage Hawala and Hundi systems, adding the Second Pakistan Remittances Summit would be held in the UAE in the current year to promote the flow of remittances through legal means.
The meeting was briefed about the steps taken by National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) to boost remittances. NBP and Pakistan Post were jointly working in that regard. In the first phase, the remittance facility will be provided by 237 Post Offices, while in the second phase, remittances would be given at the doorsteps of people with the help of 1,300 postmen.
An NBP official told the prime minister that they were opening branches so that one-window banking facility could be provided to all those Pakistanis who wanted to go abroad.
The meeting was briefed on the establishment of National Challenges Bank and the facilities to be offered to overseas Pakistanis under the digital platform.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2019.