By Dr Saeed Ahmad Ali
LAHORE, Apr 25 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sincere efforts and well-thought-out initiatives have started showing positive results lately. These initiatives are not only steering the country out of financial and other crises but also taking the national economy to new heights.
There is no denying the fact that Prime Minister Imram Khan’s political insight and wisdom makes him stand tall among the present-day world leaders. It’s believed there is always much to learn from the stories of history’s iconic persons, and Prime Minister Imran Khan could also be included in the list of such leaders who acted bravely in the face of the worst and challenging times.
As novel coronavirus is tearing its way through country after country, capital after capital and town after town, the sensible and responsible nations and leader are managing the pandemic through discipline, teamwork, good organisation and societal values.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, since it came to power in 2018, had been playing an impressive role to curtail poverty in the country through various relief packages, initiatives and coordinated efforts. It took special initiatives for supporting the needy and poor strata of society since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic last year.
To combat its negative impact on the national economy, the PTI government made practical policies for the wellbeing of the local and expatriate communities of the country.
The overseas Pakistanis are a valuable asset to the nation and the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) had been striving to serve them by formulating new policies and presenting its result-oriented recommendations to the government.
To help boost the flow of foreign remittances in the country, the PTI government took friendly measures for expatriates while chalking out a comprehensive strategy of incentivising the Pakistani diaspora for using legal channels to send money back home.
The government, in consultation with the experts, introduced a plan aiming at promoting legal means among the Pakistani expatriates for transfer of remittances through legal means and by discouraging the use of Hawala-Hundi methods, Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment (BEOE) official sources told APP.
The policy of effective crackdown on illegal transfers of foreign exchange has pushed up remittances’ inflows, while the central bank’s scheme to attract remittances through Roshan Digital Accounts for overseas Pakistanis has started showing a positive impact.
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), in its recent statement, said that for the first time during the ongoing quarter of the 2021, the inflows of foreign exchange through the Roshan Digital Accounts (RDA) crossed the $1 billion mark, offering further space for the architects of the products to introduce more such initiatives and attractions for the overseas Pakistanis during this month.
The funds inflows figure through RDA have crossed $1bn now, and an event was being planned to thank the overseas Pakistanis for their extraordinary cooperation and response to the initiative.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his tweet on Saturday, appreciated the overseas Pakistanis and the SBP role for supporting and improving the country’s foreign exchange inflows.
To meet the objectives of Roshan Digital Accounts (RDA), the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development introduced the historic facilitation for the emigrants in opening new bank accounts. The Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment (BEOE) introduced the facility for every outgoing emigrant so that s/he could be issued an easy debit/ credit card by the banks for different kinds of incentives,” official sources said.
In this offer, the card user emigrant was offered some points on swiping the card for transfer of remittances from abroad, including incentives like concession in air tickets and special permission for bringing a little more luggage against the approved weight and two mobile phones.
Initially the government eased the process of local banks who laid less focus on encouraging or boosting transfer of remittances through legal means due to various reasons, while on the other hand the process of transacting money from the Middle East (ME) through illegal ways was little bit easy and cost-effective.
According to the scheme, a Pakistani expatriate can send $200 or above in one transaction without submitting any fee against which the related bank is supposed to pay 16 Saudi Riyals to the foreign exchange companies in Saudi Arabia or any other Gulf state, a document of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) showed.
In December last year, the foreign remittances surpassed the $2 billion mark for the seventh consecutive month in a row. In the first half of 2020-21, inflows figure total was marked at $14.2bn, which was about 25 per cent higher than $11.37bn which was received in July-Dec 2019, it further said.
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) shows that during the first three quarters of the current fiscal year (2020-21), the exports from the country had surged to 7.12 per cent more, comparing with the corresponding period of last year.
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh told APP that COVID-19 situation had paralysed the global economy and trade patterns, adding that has absolutely transformed the nature of global trade and business by reshaping international economies. He said that the business sector believes that higher inflow through the RDA is a sign of expression of confidence of overseas Pakistanis in the economy, adding that the country succeeded in increasing its foreign exchange reserves while regaining current account surplus.
Meanwhile, sources in the SBP told APP that it was finalising two new schemes to attract overseas Pakistanis including “Roshan Apni Car” and “Roshan Samaji Khidmat” with a number of facilitating features.