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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to launch ‘Overseas Pakistanis Savings Certificates’ to tap the pool of $30 billion held by Pakistanis living abroad, the Senate Standing Committee on Finance was informed on Thursday.

“In a conservative estimate, overseas Pakistanis had earnings of around $50bn out of which $20bn were remitted through formal channels while the rest $30bn remains untapped,” Zafar Masood, Director General Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS) said.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, asked about the details of the proposed bonds and inquired if such bonds have been launched by any other country of the region.

The committee was informed that the government has decided to launch a rupee and dollar denominated bond for overseas Pakistanis to invest their savings in the range of $100 and $100,000 for a period of three to five years.

“In the first phase, the bond for overseas Pakistanis will be launched for those residing in the Gulf countries and we expect investment in the range of $550m-$1.2bn,” the DG CDNS added.

The committee was informed that out of $30bn earnings, almost $15bn might be saved in respective countries, while the remaining $15bn could be the potential amount which could be tapped through these bonds.

“It will be a risk free product in which expats would love to invest,” he said, and added that it was expected that this scheme would be launched in May 2018.

Mr Masood informed that Bangladesh had launched a similar scheme and after witnessing flip-flop they reached the figure of $250m last year.

“If the scheme is structured in the right manner, Pakistan can easily attract $550m in first phase by luring investors from the GCC countries,” he added.

At the same time, DG CDNS said that if they were unable to attract between $500 and $550m investment on an annual basis, it should be considered as a failed scheme.

Meanwhile, Zahid Khokhar, member customs, told the committee that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was moving a summary after consultations with the stakeholders over the regulatory duty recently imposed on certain items.

He said that the committee would be informed over the development in the next meeting as things mature.

Earlier a sub-committee meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance was held in the parliament house and decided to expand the scope of ongoing pending inquiries against alleged corrupt officers in the FBR, with the direction to submit details in cases of mega tax frauds.

The main agenda of the sub-committee was to analyse the grade-wise list of all inquiries conducted against its officers by FBR.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2017