KARACHI: The country received over $3 billion through the Roshan Digital Accounts (RDA) till the end of December 2021, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported on Friday.

The SBP had launched the RDAs in September 2020 to attract foreign exchange through overseas Pakistanis while it also provided high yields on the Naya Pakistan Certificates (NPCs).

According to the SBP, the country received $3.160bn in RDAs till the end of 2021. However, the NPCs attracted the major inflows which amounted to $2.149bn.

In dollar terms, the three-, six- and 12-month NPCs offer a profit rate of 5.5 per cent, 6pc and 6.5pc, respectively. For three- and five-year certificates, the return is 6.75pc and 7pc, respectively.

The return rates in rupee terms are much higher ranging from 9.5pc to 11pc on different tenors.

The details show that the inflows are coming from 175 countries. Total accounts opened for RDAs reached 322,463 by the end of December 2021.

Since the inception of RDAs, the government has taken a number of decisions to make the scheme attractive besides making amendments to reduce tax compliance cost for overseas Pakistanis. The government has made the taxation regime simple, convenient and hassle-free for Non-Resident Pakistanis (NRPs) to open and operate these accounts.

The amendments have extended the coverage of full and final taxation regime to dividends and capital gains on shares and mutual funds investments and capital gains on real estate investments made through RDAs. As a result, NRPs will not need to file tax returns against their income derived from investment made through RDAs and will not be subject to tax on cash withdrawals and bank transfers.

“The RDA is a flagship initiative of the Bank aimed at connecting overseas Pakis­tanis with Pakistan’s banking and payment system,” the SBP said.

In February 2021, Prime Minister Imran Khan suggested housing loans for overseas Pakistanis and asked the participating banks for providing more products — such as automobile and housing loans — to meet the demands of the Pakistani Diaspora.

However, banks said there was no reports about the housing loans under the RDA scheme. The government expects to attract foreign exchange through offering housing projects and auto loans under the RDA scheme. The major interest of the overseas Pakistanis is so far in the NPCs which provide government guaranteed high return on their investments.

In response to demand from overseas Pakistanis in Europe and the United Kingdom, the government has introduced NPCs in euro and pound in addition to the existing US dollar and rupee-denominated certificates.

For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the SBP has allowed overseas Pakistanis to open an account in a Pakistani bank completely digitally without needing to visit any bank, embassy or consulate.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2022

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