Pakistan facing 'most difficult period of its history' but course correction underway: PM Khan

Updated January 31, 2019

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Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a ceremony launching the Pakistan Banao Certificates. — Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a ceremony launching the Pakistan Banao Certificates. — Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that while Pakistan was currently facing the "most difficult period of its history", the PTI government was taking course correction measures to stabilise the economy and make institutions stand on their feet.

Speaking at the launch ceremony of the 'Pakistan Banao Certificate' (PBC) — a dollar-denominated diaspora bond aimed at attracting investment from eight million overseas Pakistanis to help strengthen the national economy, according to Radio Pakistan — the premier said his government had no idea how bad the country's economic situation was until they came into power.

"We weren't expecting anything good at all. However, we did not have any idea how bad the situation is going to be until we actually saw it with our own eyes," he said.

"The easiest way to bring relief was to go to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) like previous governments kept doing, and the other route was to go to friendly nations and ask them to lend assistance to us. That is what we did, because we needed long-term solutions," Prime Minister Khan added.

The prime minister told the audience that the crisis in Pakistan is not over by any means. "However, we are on our way out of the crisis. This crisis will end when we modify our approach towards agriculture. It will end when we start tapping into our tourist destinations."

"Pakistan is blessed with a lot of tourist spots. We can have a lot of religious tourism in the country; we have sites to attract the Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Sufi communities ... this can result in billions of dollars worth of tourism," Khan explained.

The premier reiterated that Pakistan has a lot of potential which needed to be tapped.

He invited overseas Pakistanis to come forward and enthusiastically purchase the 'Pakistan Banao Certificates' to make this scheme a success.

He said the government has offered an "attractive return on these certificates and the scheme would not only help the Pakistani diaspora earn reasonable profit from the certificates but also extend a helping hand towards reviving the national economy at this critical juncture."

'Pakistan Banao Certificate'

Finance Minister Asad Umar had earlier told Dawn that the PBCs would be of two maturities – one of three years at about 6.25 per cent return and another with five-year maturity carrying 6.75pc return. Four banks had been selected to complete the transactions, he added.

Officials said the certificates would be payable to the Pakistani investors in their accounts maintained abroad on semi-annual basis in foreign currency with the choice of local payments in local currency. The certificates would be issued to Pakistanis with computerised national identity cards and maintaining accounts abroad, national identity cards for overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) or Pakistan origin cardholders.

The instruments could be purchased individually or jointly by the resident and non-resident Pakistanis having bank accounts abroad but it would be mandatory that funds for the purchase of certificates originate from their foreign accounts and remitted through official banking channels.

The certificates have been marketed on multiple platforms including digital, electronic and print media, starting from January 28 to ensure maximum outreach to potential investors. Additionally, road-shows, awareness sessions, etc., will also be held for overseas Pakistanis in the target countries.

Officials claimed that PBCs offer more attractive returns than those available to Pakistanis abroad on instruments of similar maturity. The certificates are backed by sovereign guarantee. Responding to a question, an official had said the PBCs would not adversely affect normal remittances from overseas Pakistanis.