Incentives for Overseas Pakistanis

PRIME Minister Imran Khan announced on Friday that the government will announce a “special package of incentives” for overseas Pakistanis to encourage them to send remittances through banking channels. He expressed the confidence that by “removing hindrances and procedural issues”, the government will be able to increase the inflow of remittances from $20bn to “at least $30bn and perhaps even $40bn”.
It is a welcome announcement and one would see what the Government announces to encourage overseas Pakistanis to send more money back home through normal banking channels. The plan is also timely as, according to the State Bank of Pakistan, the remittances in September decreased to $1.45 billion as compared with $2 billion recorded in August. Though the decline in remittances inflows is being considered as a seasonal factor as the majority of overseas Pakistanis usually send a handsome amount back to their homeland ahead of Eid ul Azha but 28% decrease is not understandable. If the Government provides right kind of incentives to overseas Pakistanis, they can play a pivotal role in boosting Pakistan’s economy through their remittances and investments for the socio-economic prosperity. Overseas Pakistanis are believed to have enough money which they can invest in agriculture, transportation, telecom and energy sectors but the successive governments did not take appropriate measures to attract such investment. Presently, overseas Pakistanis only invest in real estate and here too, in many cases, they lose their savings at the hands of some unscrupulous elements. The Government should better offer doable projects with adequate incentives to Overseas Pakistanis especially those in the United States and Europe who have the extra money to invest in profitable ventures. We have Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, which can play important role in realizing this objective but unfortunately the institution has confined itself to mere launching of housing schemes for overseas Pakistanis and that too have not materialized as per original announcements. The OPF is there since long and it must have ideas and plans to tap the true potential of overseas Pakistanis in accelerating the pace of socio-economic progress and development. Mere focus on increasing remittances from the existing Pakistani Diaspora abroad would not be sufficient in the backdrop of reports to deportation of thousands of Pakistanis from the Gulf countries. Our Missions abroad and the Ministry should work hard to increase employment opportunities for Pakistani manpower in foreign market.

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