ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Friday approved two bills that are required to be passed by parliament to meet the requirements of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) so that Pakistan can be removed from its ‘grey list’.

The Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill 2019 and the Foreign Exchange Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2019 have already been cleared by the National Assembly on Jan 1.

Chairing a meeting of the committee, Senator Farooq H. Naek said no amendment was proposed to the Foreign Exchange Regulation (Amendment) Bill; therefore, it was considered passed by the committee.

Later, the committee reviewed the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill and some amendments were made to its sections 4, 21(3), 33 and 34(2).

Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill and Foreign Exchange Regulation (Amendment) Bill have already been cleared by NA

Another bill related to Mutual Legal Assistance and Information Sharing is pending with the Senate Standing Committee on Interior.

This bill also required to be passed by parliament to meet the FATF conditions.

Meanwhile, five bills were introduced in the National Assembly to further amend some acts and ordinances related to FATF.

These are: a bill to amend Government Savings Bank (Amendment) Act 2020, Post Office Cash Certificate (Amendment) Act 2020, Post Office National Savings Certificates (Amendment) Act 2020, Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020 and Emigration Ordinance (Amendment) Act 2020.

On the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, the opposition raised an objection that it was tabled without passage by the relevant standing committee of the lower house. The opposition members said it was similar to an already tabled bill on anti-terrorism.

Under the anti-terrorism bill 2020, which was presented by Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, punishment for terrorists has been enhanced. Under its section 110, the convicts will be fined Rs25 million or sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years, or both.

Not only individuals but private companies will also be awarded sentence. In case of any violation of the act, every director, officer and employee of the firm will face punishment.

In case they are found guilty, the convicts will pay a collective fine of Rs25 million and face 10-year imprisonment.

Under the act, the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta) will issue guidelines which will be applied on federal, provincial and autonomous bodies, regulatory authorities, corporations, trusts, agencies and other entities.

In case of no action against organisations banned by the UN and their facilitating government officials, 10 years’ imprisonment will be awarded to the responsible persons. Similarly, a fine of Rs250 million or both can be imposed on the convicts.

In Post Office National Savings Certificates (Amendment) Act, two amendments were made under which new saving schemes will be launched in the country. The rate of profit in saving schemes will also be revised under the act.

There is a proposal in the bill that administrative affairs of saving schemes will be handed to the finance division by the federal government.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2020