ISLAMABAD: The government has started negotiations with the UAE and Swiss governments to collect information regarding Pakistanis holding billions of dollars of offshore assets and bank accounts to bring these Pakistanis into the tax net.

“We have started negotiations with authorities in Dubai and Switzerland to get information about properties and other assets of Pakistanis,” said Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal while talking to reporters after a meeting of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice at the Parliament House on Thursday.

He said Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland were members of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and under the charter of the organisation they had to share information about assets and properties of nationals of each other’s countries.

“The process of exchange of such information started among OECD-member countries with effect from Jan 1, 2018,” he said.

According to media rep­orts, hundreds of Pakistanis have stashed billions of dollars abroad via their offshore companies and properties to evade taxes in Pakistan.

Mr Afzal said that because of the OECD charter, the government would also be able to obtain information regarding properties and bank accounts of those 500 Pakistanis who had been ex­­posed in the Panama Papers scandal in April 2016.

The minister said that those Pakistan having sta­sh­­ed their money abroad would have an opportunity to legalise their wealth by paying a certain amount of tax in Pakistan as the government was preparing an amnesty scheme for the purpose.

“Indonesia and Malaysia have taken advantage of such amnesty schemes, and received billions of dollars in taxes from their nationals,” he pointed out.

He said rich Pakista­nis who had hidden their wealth abroad had a chance under the scheme to declare their properties and bank accou­nts and whiten their money and wealth by paying a certain amount of tax in Pakis­tan. He said the government was fine-tuning different as­­p­ects of the scheme to make it more beneficial for the government and the people.

According to media repo­rts, the Federal Investi­gation Agency (FIA) has also been tasked with investigating billions of rupees’ properties owned by Pakistanis in Dubai.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2018

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