Govt to screen Rs4.03tr investments in savings schemes

Updated 19 Jan 2020

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The FATF wants Islamabad to trace and identify the owners of these investments in the National Savings schemes. — AFP/File
The FATF wants Islamabad to trace and identify the owners of these investments in the National Savings schemes. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to initiate screening of Rs4.038 trillion investments in National Savings’ schemes of more than seven million investors to stop any ill-gotten money to become part of the financial system and to safeguard valued investors from the menace of money laundering and terror financing.

The decision came as part of compliance with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations. The Asia Pacific Group in its recently published Mutual Evaluation Report has pointed out a number of deficiencies on the part of Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS) which has negatively affected the overall grading of different recommendations.

The FATF wants Islamabad to trace and identify the owners of these investments in the National Savings schemes. It has already given a deadline of February 2020 to remain on grey list with a set of recommendations to Pakistan for implementation.

On Saturday, the finance division through promulgation of the National Savings Schemes (AML-CFT) Rules, 2019 has decided to engage an AML-CFT compliant bank, through competitive bidding, to put in place the requirement as well as the necessary training of employees of CDNS.

Decision comes as part of compliance with FATF recommendations

Accordingly, Expression of Interest, in consultation with the State Bank of Pakistan, has been sought from the interested bank to conduct KYC (Know Your Customer) and other requirement of new as well as existing client of CDNS.

This will include the biometric verification and screening of potential clients in the UN Proscribed Person List.

Currently, the CDNS manages portfolio of Rs4,038 billion of more than seven million investors. National Savings schemes provide risk-free and competitive avenue to all segments of society, especially the most vulnerable — senior citizens, pensioners, widows, physically challenged persons and family members of martyrs.

However, it provides a non-inflationary and cost effective borrowing to government of Pakistan to bridge the overall fiscal deficit, which ultimately reduces dependency on external borrowing. Further break-up shows that 19 per cent of domestic debt consists of National Savings schemes, while these deposits are equal to 28pc of total deposit of scheduled bank.

Moreover, around 33pc of CDNS deposits are in welfare schemes, which attribute around 2pc incremental rate of profit over and above other regular savings schemes.

Currently, one of the main challenges to the CDNS is its manual operations and lack of information technology at National Savings Centres (NSC). So far two automation projects were completed since 2013.

Through these projects 223 NSCs, which is 60pc out of total 376 centres, have been successfully automated. Automation of remaining 153 is in active process with support of Department for International Development (DFID), UK.

Meanwhile, the CDNS has also upgraded its core business solution from decentralised to centralised architecture. As part of the reforms, 144 branches have already been shifted to upgraded solution where customer transaction time has significantly been reduced. Also, the provision of Alternate Delivery Channels is in final stages, which will further improve the service delivery.

As part of introduction, technology has provided the CDNS the opportunity to modernise its process which include swift data reporting, reconciliation with other departments, budgeting & forecasting, customer data base, etc.

According to the finance division’s statement, in this context, Asia Pacific Group in its recently published Mutual Evaluation Report (MER 2019) has pointed out a number of deficiencies on the part of CDNS in terms of compliance to FATF recommendations, which has negatively affected the overall grading of different recommendations, especially the recommendations 10, 11, 12 and 15.

In this context, the CDNS is committed to mitigating the deficiency to improve customer service delivery and to comply with the FATF recommendation to safeguard the interest of investors. Banks under the supervision of the SBP have already put in place all the required systems and KYC processes to comply with the FATF recommendation, the statement added.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2020