ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is committed to aligning itself with the global financial system and positioning the country as a reliable partner in countering global money laundering and terror financing challenges, which will help in getting out of the FATF grey list. It was told to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, which met at the Parliament House on Monday. Senator Farooq Hamid Naek chaired the meeting.
Pakistan had formalised an internal action plan to revamp the legal, regulatory and supervising framework in order to meet the conditions set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Senate panel was told. It was asserted that efforts were under way for the legislative revamp in banking and financial systems, institutional reorganisation and capacity building, enforcement of egovernance, addressing financial challenges and autonomy of regulatory framework. In addition to these, Pakistan was also seeking to revamp the entire anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime. According
to an FATF assessment, Pakistan has largely addressed five out of 27 action items. In discussions on the smuggling of LED TVs, the committee was informed that the ongoing countrywide operation against the smuggling of goods including LED TVs was in full swing. The main challenge faced by law enforcement agencies was the ban on recruitment, which
had now been removed. The committee stressed the need for training of forces that had been granted anti-smuggling powers such as Coast Guards and Frontier Corps. While reviewing whether the increase in taxes and duties had contributed to the rise in smuggling of goods, the committee was informed that there was zero tax on raw material imports. It was specifically aimed at encouraging and promoting industrialisation. The committee encouraged the formulation of legislation for the purpose. The committee was also informed that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had collected Rs1,280 billion worth of taxes in first four months (Jul-Oct) of
the current fiscal year against the target of Rs1,447 billion, but it was 16.3% higher than the previous fiscal year. Meeting participants told the committee that the number of tax return filers had increased 65% as out of the 2.7 million return filers, 888,748 were new. The number of individuals that availed the Asset Declaration Scheme stood at 124,208, who paid Rs4.7 billion in taxes. Senator Syed Shibli Faraz, Senator Mohsin Aziz, Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Senator Muhammad Akram and senior officers of the Ministry of Finance, FBR, State Bank of Pakistan and Pakistan Customs were present in the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2019.