KARACHI: Pakistan has geared up efforts to receive remittance inflows from overseas Pakistani workers through legal channels to combat against the possibility of money laundering and terror financing.
Besides, enhanced inflows through legal channels became the need of the hour at a time when the country requires higher foreign currency reserves to partially finance major international payments like imports and debt repayment while its exports remain flat.
To this effect, a state-owned commercial bank has setup a counter at Protectorate of Emigrants Office in Karachi, to facilitate nationals going abroad to avail job opportunities, to open their foreign currency accounts to be used for sending remittances from any part of the world, an official at the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
Remittances rise 12% to $12.8b in seven months
It is mandatory for every Pakistani leaving on work visa to get their passports stamped by Protectorate of Emigrants Office. There are a total of seven such offices. The Karachi office became the second one to have extended foreign currency account opening facilities to the nationals.
Earlier, the state-owned bank started the facility at its Quetta office.
However, opening an account through the facilitation counter is not mandatory but optional, the official added.
“Some 300 Pakistanis are getting registered through Protectorate of Emigrants Office every day,” Special Assistant to PM on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari said following the inauguration of the facilitation counter at Karachi.
Remittances fall due to global economic slowdown
Also speaking on the occasion, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Executive Director for Banking Policy and Regulations Group Syed Irfan Ali pointed out that Pakistan has targeted to receive $21.5 billion in overseas worker remittances. He highlighted that the government wanted to make blue-collar workers a part of the system. “They have become a great source of the country’s foreign income,” shared Ali.
The overseas Pakistani workers’ remittances registered a growth of 12% and amounted to $14.35 billion in the first eight months (July-February) of the current fiscal year 2019 due to efforts made by the government to encourage people to send the money through proper banking channels.
“The growth in remittances is in line with the SBP’s projections and government’s efforts to push overseas workers to send remittances through proper legal channels,” a senior analyst stated the other day. The remittances stood at $12.83 billion in the same period last year, the central bank reported. The bank aims to opening facilitation counters at all seven Protectorate of Emigrants Offices nationwide.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2019.
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