Bright resource potential

A report submitted to the Supreme Court by a 12-member committee of experts, headed by State Bank Governor Tariq Bajwa, has revealed that a sum of $15.25 billion was transferred abroad by individual account holders in Pakistan during the financial year 2016-17 through normal banking channels. At the same time, though no official figures have so far been released by media leaks indicate the tax amnesty scheme was evoking keen interest and Rs 21 billion in taxes have been raised and the amount go well up to Rs 100 billion by the close of the deadline on June 30.
These two separate but inter-related developments clearly show that the country has a great potential to tap its financial resources but could not due to lack of vision and lacklustre approach by successive Governments. The amount that individual Pakistanis sent abroad in just one year through normal banking channel constitutes almost fifty percent of the trade deficit and one can understand the overall impact if the amount sent through illegal means is taken into consideration as, according to reports, dollars are transferred abroad on an almost daily basis through Launches from Karachi. The Committee itself has concluded that both types of outflows – regular and hundi or hawala – had a huge impact on the stability of the country’s foreign exchange reserves and adversely affected the exchange rate of the Pakistani rupee. It is quite obvious that the country can improve its financial health by introducing an effective regulatory mechanism for movement of the foreign currency. Transfers through normal banking channels might be legal but it is quite understood that other movements are illegal and should be checked effectively. There are also reasons to believe that most of those who are transferring the money abroad are depositing the same in the accounts maintained in other countries. This practice can be discouraged by offering incentives as the country badly needs foreign exchange and has to spread its begging bowl before lenders every now and then at costs that the country is increasingly finding it difficult to pay. Declarations made by candidates to the National and Provincial Assemblies’ elections also confirm that Pakistanis especially influential ones are maintaining assets worth billions of dollars abroad. People should also be sensitised properly to take advantage of the tax amnesty scheme and declare their undeclared assets and income and an across-the-board campaign be launched on expiry of the deadline especially against real estate developers and investors as well as the business class that pay only a fraction of their real income as taxes.

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