PM an­nounces mea­sures for over­seas Pak­ista­nis

Prime min­is­ter re­it­er­ates govt’s re­solve to com­plete tribal ar­eas merger

Gulf Times - - PAKISTAN -

The govern­ment has abol­ished the manda­tory re­quire­ment for over­seas Pak­ista­nis to ob­tain the Na­tional Iden­tity Card for Over­seas Pak­ista­nis (NICOP), one of the sources of rev­enue for the Na­tional Data­base and Reg­is­tra­tion Au­thor­ity (NADRA).

It also re­duced bio­met­ric ver­i­fi­ca­tion charges for the labour­ers go­ing abroad.

Both the de­ci­sions were taken dur­ing a meet­ing chaired by Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan in the wake of a brief­ing given to him by the min­istry of over­seas Pak­ista­nis and hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment.

The govern­ment de­cided to un­der­take a cou­ple of new ini­tia­tives to fa­cil­i­tate the over­seas Pak­ista­nis.

The prime min­is­ter also an­nounced that the govern­ment would soon un­veil a spe­cial in­cen­tives pack­age aimed at en­cour­ag­ing the over­seas Pak­ista­nis to trans­fer re­mit­tances through bank­ing chan­nels.

He di­rected the min­istry of fi­nance, the Fed­eral Board of Rev­enue (FBR), the State Bank of Pak­istan (SBP), and the NADRA to sub­mit a work­able plan for re­mov­ing bot­tle­necks in the re­mit­tance trans­fer mech­a­nism us­ing e-so­lu­tions.

“Had an ex­ten­sive meet­ing this morn­ing on over­seas Pak­ista­nis. We are go­ing to an­nounce a spe­cial pack­age of in­cen­tives to en­cour­age them to send re­mit­tances through bank­ing chan­nels by re­mov­ing all hin­drances and pro­ce­dural is­sues. [The] Philip­pines did this suc­cess­fully,” Khan tweeted af­ter the meet­ing.

“By re­mov­ing these hin­drances, we will be able to in­crease re­mit­tance flows from $20bn to at least $30bn, and per­haps even $40bn, through bank­ing chan­nels,” he tweeted fur­ther.

The meet­ing was at­tended by, among oth­ers, Spe­cial As­sis­tant to the Prime Min­is­ter on Over­seas Pak­ista­nis Syed Zul­fiqar Bukhari, Spe­cial As­sis­tant to Prime Min­is­ter on Me­dia Iftikhar Dur­rani, the sec­re­tary to the prime min­is­ter, the fi­nance sec­re­tary, the sec­re­tary for over­seas Pak­ista­nis and hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment, the FBR and NADRA chair­men, and se­nior of­fi­cials from the SBP, the Fed­eral In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (FIA), and the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity (CAA).

The Pak­istan Tehreek-e-In­saf (PTI) govern­ment, said the prime min­is­ter, is fully aware of prob­lems faced by over­seas Pak­ista­nis in send­ing re­mit­tances and re­tain­ing their le­gal prop­er­ties in Pak­istan.

He added the govern­ment is try­ing to solve their prob­lems ex­pe­di­tiously.

“Over­seas Pak­ista­nis are among na­tional as­sets” and could play an im­por­tant role in im­prov­ing the coun­try’s fi­nan­cial con­di­tion through re­mit­tances, said Khan.

The meet­ing also de­cided to re­form civil and crim­i­nal laws, dis­cour­ag­ing il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of prop­er­ties owned by over­seas Pak­ista­nis.

It also dis­cussed the mat­ter of es­tab­lish­ing spe­cial courts in this re­gard.

Khan stated that labour­ers earn­ing low wages were al­ready bur­dened with harsh work­ing con­di­tions abroad, and it is the govern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to fa­cil­i­tate them and pro­vide nec­es­sary fa­cil­i­ties and in­cen­tives for them and their fam­i­lies in the coun­try.

Var­i­ous in­cen­tives, in­clud­ing tax ex­emp­tions on re­mit­tances and sev­eral so­cial wel­fare schemes, were also dis­cussed dur­ing the meet­ing.

The prime min­is­ter warned that strict ac­tion would be taken against those oc­cu­py­ing prop­er­ties owned by the over­seas Pak­ista­nis.

Rel­e­vant di­rec­tives would soon be is­sued to pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments and law-en­force­ment agen­cies in this re­gard, he added.

The meet­ing de­cided to es­tab­lish con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween the min­istry of over­seas Pak­ista­nis and hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment and the NADRA to main­tain records of the over­seas Pak­ista­nis, in­clud­ing the labour­ers.

Bio­met­ric ver­i­fi­ca­tion charges for the labour­ers go­ing abroad were re­duced from Rs45 to Rs10 per ver­i­fi­ca­tion.

The meet­ing also de­cided that the “fam­ily tree” record of Pak­ista­nis work­ing abroad would be shared with the min­istry of over­seas Pak­ista­nis and hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment, en­abling it to pro­vide them the ben­e­fits of health, ed­u­ca­tion and ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Mean­while, dur­ing a meet­ing with Fed­er­ally Ad­min­is­tered Tribal Ar­eas (Fata) se­na­tors at the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice, Khan re­it­er­ated the govern­ment’s re­solve to com­plete the process for merger of the Fata with Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) prov­ince.

The prime min­is­ter said that the govern­ment is also striv­ing hard to place an ef­fec­tive lo­cal gov­er­nance sys­tem in the tribal dis­tricts.

He as­sured the del­e­ga­tion that the Cen­tre would help the pro­vin­cial govern­ment in pro­vi­sion of ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties like health, ed­u­ca­tion and hous­ing.

“The tribal ar­eas will be pro­vided all-out fa­cil­i­ties like other parts of the coun­try,” he added.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, mat­ters re­lat­ing to the over­all sit­u­a­tion in tribal ar­eas, the Fata merger, and ad­min­is­tra­tive af­fairs came un­der dis­cus­sion.

The prime min­is­ter said the tribal peo­ple had rights to the re­gion’s re­sources, and that these should be spent on the con­struc­tion and de­vel­op­ment of the area.

The govern­ment has al­ready an­nounced a Rs100bn up­lift pack­age for tribal dis­tricts.

The land­mark merger of Fata and the Provin­cially Ad­min­is­tered Tribal Ar­eas with KP took place through a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment in the last days of the five-year term of the pre­vi­ous Pak­istan Mus­lim League – Nawaz (PML-N) govern­ment that ended on May 31.

The process of tran­si­tion is still in progress, which is now be­ing mon­i­tored by the PTI govern­ment.

Fol­low­ing the land­mark merger, the pro­vin­cial govern­ment es­tab­lished the of­fices of deputy com­mis­sioner and as­sis­tant com­mis­sion­ers by in­tro­duc­ing the sta­tus of sub-di­vi­sion and dis­tricts in the tribal ar­eas which were pre­vi­ously gov­erned un­der one-and-a-half cen­tury-old colo­nial laws known as the Fron­tier Crimes Reg­u­la­tions.

Khan: We are go­ing to an­nounce a spe­cial pack­age of in­cen­tives to en­cour­age them to send re­mit­tances through bank­ing chan­nels.

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