• Car finance, charity incentives for overseas Pakistanis launched
• PM to visit Saudi Arabia next week
• Premier rejects allegations levelled by former FIA chief
ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Terming over nine million overseas Pakistanis a “big asset” of the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday urged all Pakistani embassies and high commissions to resolve issues of Pakistani expatriates instead of creating problems for them.
“They (overseas Pakistanis) are Pakistan’s biggest asset and their remittances have kept the national economy afloat,” he said while addressing the launching ceremony of two digital incentives for Pakistani expatriates — Roshan Apni Car (car finance) and Roshan Samaji Khidmat (charity).
PM Khan in particular acknowledged the services of Pakistani labourers working abroad in tough conditions, who send their hard-earned money to their families back home.
He said these workers deserved utmost respect, but Pakistani embassies were not facilitating them in difficult situations. “It is the duty of foreign missions to extend best possible services to Pakistani labourers and workers,” he added.
He said the country’s foreign remittances had witnessed a record growth in one year, crossing $1 billion mark.
“By the time we achieve the required volume of exports, remittances by overseas Pakistanis is the only way to keep our economy moving,” Mr Khan said, adding that to tap the potential of overseas Pakistanis, the government was keen to facilitate them through simplified online procedures of investment.
“However, this is just the tip of the iceberg as immense possibilities lie ahead if more overseas Pakistanis divert resources towards the promising projects, including those in construction sector,” he said.
Prime Minister Khan lauded the efforts of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the private banks for supporting the government’s initiatives aimed at facilitating overseas Pakistanis.
He regretted that poor economic strategies of previous governments led to difficulties in boom and bust cycles, which directly affected the life of the common man.
He said the current account deficit devalued the rupee that cast negative impact on foreign investment.
Speaking on the occasion, SBP President Dr Reza Baqir said under the Roshan Apni Car scheme, overseas Pakistanis would be one click away from digitally purchasing a car for their families and friends in Pakistan on reduced mark-up and delivery time.
He said Roshan Samaji Khidmat would offer a simplified mode for the expatriates to send donations to Pakistan, including to its flagship Ehsaas socio-welfare project.
He said the government was pursuing the goal of transforming the financial system of the country to facilitate the common man.
Mr Baqir said focus would be laid on training of bank staff to amicably deal with new digital projects, resolution of land title issues and promotion of small and medium enterprises.
The SBP governor said he was feeling proud today that banks were able to receive $1bn in deposits through the Roshan Digital Account (RDA) in such a short period of time.
He said that the first major milestone of receiving $500 million was passed five months after introduction of the RDA. After only another two months, the $1bn mark has been crossed, demonstrating the accelerating pace of inflows.
He noted that more than 120,000 Roshan Digital Accounts had been opened from 170 countries around the world.
Earlier, the prime minister gave away awards to best performing banks for attracting the Roshan Pakistan customers. The Meezan Bank was given first prize while Habib Bank Limited, Bank Alfalah and Habib Metro Bank bagged the next three positions, respectively.
PM to visit Saudi Arabia
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has said Prime Minister Khan will visit Saudi Arabia next week and the visit will prove a milestone in bilateral relations and cooperation in diversified areas, especially economic field, would get further boost.
Taking to media persons along with Sindh Governor Imran Ismail here, the minister said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoyed deep fraternal relations.
Mr Chaudhry said the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman to Pakistan after the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf came to power helped in improving relations between the two brotherly counties.
Criticising Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman over his irresponsible statement about Pakistan’s defence capabilities, he said the Maulana was disappointed in his political future and had been targeting national institutions due to this frustration.
The minister said entire nation stood by the armed forces.
Building codes for low-cost housing
Prime Minister Imran Khan was told on Thursday that for the first time in country’s history, the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) had formulated uniform national building codes for construction of low-cost houses.
Presiding over a meeting of National Coordination Committee on housing, construction and development, the prime minister was told that the building codes had been formulated within a record period of four months, in light of his directives and after consultation with and consensus of all provinces.
The prime minister lauded the efforts of the PEC and others for formulating the uniform building codes for low-cost houses.
Talking to a group of anchorpersons at the Prime Minister House, Mr Khan rejected allegations of former director general of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Bashir Memon and said he had never asked the latter to file a reference or initiate investigations against Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
“When I knew that he (Memon) could not file any reference against the sitting judge, then why would I order him to do so,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by an anchor who attended the meeting.
When he was asked whether he had also directed Mr Memon to register cases of terrorism against leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Mr Khan simply said he had never given any such directives to the former FIA chief.
He, however, acknowledged that in the case of PML-N leader Khawaja Asif he had asked Mr Memon to investigate how a sitting minister could get iqama of the United Arab Emirates.
The prime minister revealed that Mr Memon had been removed from his position for not pursuing investigations against Mr Asif.
Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2021