ISLAMABAD, Nov 25 (APP): Describing nine million Overseas Pakistanis as the country’s asset, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday urged his economic team to focus on incentivizing and facilitating them for sending remittances and investing in the country through banking channels for a win-win situation.
“I urge the economic team to keep in mind that we have to incentivize our nine million Overseas Pakistanis – an asset for the country – and ensure ease of doing business so that that they send their remittances through banking channels,” he maintained.
The Prime Minister expressed these views while addressing a ceremony held here to launch Sohni Dharti Remittance Programme (SDRP), to encourage the use of formal channels for remittances.
He said the Overseas Pakistanis should be treated as VIPs, because incentivizing and facilitating them besides benefitting the country will also benefit them.
Advisor to PM on Finance Shaukat Train and Governor State Bank Reza Baqir also addressed the launching ceremony.
Sohni Dharti Remittance Program is a point-based loyalty program in which remitters and their beneficiaries will accumulate reward points by sending remittances through formal channels (SBP regulated entities) and will redeem those points at participating Public Sector Entities (PSEs) by availing their services, free of cost.
A mobile App, in English and Urdu, for iOS (Apple) and Android (Google) is available for remitters to download for the purpose of registration and later on for point redemption at PSEs.
Remitter can also add one beneficiary relationship and can transfer reward points to him/her for utilization. A centralized back-end system is developed and run by 1-LINK.
The Prime Minister said that the government will also bring another programme under which the Overseas Pakistanis will be able to purchase houses and invest in real estate in their homeland through Roshan Digital Accounts (RDAs) in a safe and transparent manner.
He said that the investment in real estate through RDAs will be safe as the concerned banks will check and verify the legal details of housing society so that the Overseas Pakistanis could be protected from any fraud.
The Prime Minister said that the government was also planning to offer tax incentives for the Overseas Pakistanis to investment in real estate.
A per the criteria under Sohni Dharti Remittance Programme , Green category remitter will be awarded 1% of upto $10,000 annual remittance, 1.25% for Gold category sending from $10,001 to $30,000 and 1.5% for Platinum category sending annual remittances over $30,000.
The Public Sector Entities (PSEs) would offer special services for the entitled remitters including PIA on intentional air tickets, payment for extra luggage, FBR on mobile phone duty payment, purchase of vehicles, and duty on imported vehicles, NADRA on renewal of CNIC/NICOP, State Life on Insurance premium, OPF on school’s fee and Utility Stores on purchases.
All participating PSEs had already signed the agreements with 1-LINK. Further, Financial Institutions including banks and exchange companies have also signed necessary agreements with 1-LINK and have integrated with 1-LINK for necessary data sharing for the program.
The development of mobile App by 1-LINK has been completed with approved branding and logos that is available in English as well as Urdu languages on both android (Google)/ iOS (Apple) platforms. Further, the option of cash redemption is also being worked out.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Pakistan, which was ahead of countries like Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia in exports in 1960s, was now lagging behind due to past neglect and facing the issues of trade and current account deficits
He said though Pakistan will be achieving highest exports this year, but other matching economies [till 1960s] like Singapore now (around US $ 200 billion) and Malaysia (around US$ 300 billion) were far ahead of us in terms of annual exports.
The Prime Minister said that with Pakistan’s economy growing and imports increasing, there was pressure on current account. “When pressure comes on current account, it also puts pressure on rupee and we have to approach the International Monitory Fund (IMF),” he remarked.
He said that the only way out of this [vicious] cycle was to enhance exports and boost industry, which has been stagnant for the last many years.
The Prime Minister, however, noted with satisfaction that with growth in Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) sector during the COVID-19 pandemic remaining on positive trajectory, enhanced remittances from Overseas Pakistanis helped bridge the gap in current account.
He said that with efforts afoot to enhance the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as well, the remittances by Overseas Pakistan have been a big support in the difficult time.
The Prime Minister appreciated the State Bank of Pakistan for its initiatives like RDA and SDRP for facilitating and incentivizing the Overseas Pakistanis for sending remittances through banking channels, adding, “But such initiatives should have been taken three years back.”
Advisor to PM on Finance Shaukat Tarin in his remarks on the occasion said the launching of SDRP was not only aimed at facilitating the Overseas Pakistanis but to recognize their services for the country through various incentives and awards.
This programme was a “Thank You” for Overseas Pakistanis who were contributing in the country’s economy through remittances in a big way bridging the gap between exports and imports, he added.
Governor State Bank Reza Baqir said that after the success of RDAs, the launching of SDRP application by the central bank will help the common or less educated Overseas Pakistanis to send their remittances by registering on the SDRP application, which required minimum information including the details of their Identity Card and Passport.
He said the State Bank under the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan for the time has also initiated a loan scheme in 5 and 10 Marla Houses. With loan applications worth Rs. 236 billion received so far, an amount of Rs. 90 billion has been approved and Rs. 25 billion disbursed, he added.
The Governor State Bank said that the Central Bank, in line with the government’s policy of financial inclusion and investment, will continue to bring new initiatives to incentivize and facilities Pakistanis at home and abroad.
He also mentioned the allocation of Rs. 24 billion for the disbursement of loans under Kamyab Jawab Programme and said every loan was being approved on merit and through a transparent and apolitical online application system.