THIS is with reference to the report ‘SBP tightens rules on buying foreign currency’ (Dec 20). The precarious levels of our foreign exchange reserves continue to deplete because of our liberal import policy. Against this backdrop, we have the audacity to allow each individual to buy and remit up to $100,000 during a calendar year. This is the equivalent of about Rs18 million at the prevailing exchange rate.

In other words, a family consisting of five adults can legally carry or remit about Rs90 million overseas during a year without any inconvenience or enquiry. One does not know what logic would allow it to be described as tightening of rules related to purchase of foreign currency.

The news item was silent about the terms and conditions for the buying of foreign currency, such as, the taxpayer status, the source of funds to be transferred, the purpose of the transfer, etc.

We frequently read that the foreign remittances by expatriates are on the rise, but information regarding the buying and outward remittance to foreign countries by people from Pakistan is hardly ever shared by officials or the national media. The net figure of inflow/outflow of remittances needs to be shared by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) with the public.

The policy related to the buying of dollars should be revisited, as we can ill-afford to have mere cosmetic curbs. In fact, what needs to be done is to tighten the system and rid it of the loopholes that can be abused by individuals and institutions.

Muhammad K. Sufi

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2022



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