ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso on Wednesday approved a wide ranging national policy for overseas Pakistanis.
However, the policy will be open to review by the incoming PML-N government, a senior official involved in preparation of the policy told Dawn.
Asked why the interim set-up was taking such steps at a time when a new government was to take over in the next few days, the official said it was a non-controversial document meant only for the welfare of Pakistanis living abroad.
Prime Minister Khoso gave his consent to the ‘National Policy for Overseas Pakistanis’ after receiving a briefing from Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakhel on its salient features.
The policy was discussed and endorsed by the cabinet on May 9.
Mr Kakakhel informed the prime minister that the policy had been prepared in consultation with all stakeholders, including the ministries concerned, Board of Investment, Federal Board of Revenue and Overseas Employment Foundation. Seminars were also held for the purpose.
SCHEMES: The policy envisages a range of social and welfare facilities for overseas Pakistanis, including housing schemes in different cities of the country, allocation of a specific sector or percentage in government residential schemes, opening Pakistani schools in different cities abroad on a need basis, establishment of a overseas university in Islamabad, construction of hospitals, provision of mobile medical units and legal assistance to their families.
FINANCIAL BENEFITS: The policy provides for a self-contributory pension scheme. The scheme has already been launched and will be made attractive by providing more facilities.
It envisages an increase in the existing financial assistance to destitute families in the event of sudden death or disability. The increase will be reviewed periodically. The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis will facilitate free transportation of those countrymen who died in the countries where PIA’s service is not available.
FOCAL PERSONS: The policy encourages increased liaison with foreign governments in matters relating to recruitment, assistance in resolving disputes between employers and employees and simplification of procedure to obtain computerised national identity cards, passports and foreign remittance cards.
The government will appoint special focal persons in regional police offices and district/city government offices to look into the issues of overseas Pakistanis and resolve them. The government will also support activities aimed at promoting Pakistani art, culture, music, literature and crafts as well as festivals in host countries.
ADVISORY COUNCIL: The policy proposes a database of overseas Pakistanis for up-to-date information, analysis and welfare initiatives.
An overseas Pakistanis advisory council will be set up for welfare and to encourage participation in national development. The policy calls for finding ways of giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis.
INVESTMENT: In order to encourage remittances and investment, the policy calls for expanding duty credit to other household items to encourage remittances through banking channels. The State Bank will introduce schemes with attractive profit rates for foreign currency deposits and work out a mechanism to eliminate difference between market and official rates of exchange to increase inflow of remittances.
The State Bank will also introduce national award for leading remitters. Special investment fund trust and schemes will be launched to offer loans to overseas Pakistanis at attractive interest rates. Under the policy, an overseas Pakistani facilitation centre will be set up to cover broad areas, including investment facilitation, knowledge networking and business partnership.