Offshore wealth investigation

ONCE again reports are appearing in the media about the billions of dollars stashed by Pakistanis in foreign accounts or the investments they have made especially in property market abroad. National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance was informed on Friday that seven thousand Pakistanis have invested a whopping Rs 800 billion in Dubai’s property market over the last few years and it has decided to forward the matter to the National Accountability for investigation.
Indeed it is the right of every individual to keep or invest its fairly earned money wherever he wants but one has also to follow certain rules and procedures when it comes to shifting the money abroad for any kind of investment. In our country, it has been seen that the affluent class mostly shift money abroad to evade taxes. The disclosure about Pakistanis holding precious lands in Dubai is not new but an open secret. Rather Khaleej Times in one of its reports a couple of years back stated that Pakistani nationals are not far behind Indians and Britons in purchasing property in the UAE and during the first half of 2016 they invested about $ 816 million in the real estate sector there. This is only the figure of one city whilst there are many other places in the world where our elite class have made heavy investments. One would not have forgotten the billions of dollars stashed in Switzerland as well as the revelations made by Panama and Paradise papers. A couple of days back, Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal said the government has started negotiations with the UAE and Swiss government to collect information regarding Pakistanis holding billions of dollars of offshore assets and bank accounts to bring these Pakistanis into the tax net. Since the three countries are also members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and under the charter of the organization they had to share information about assets and properties of nationals of each other’s countries. Whilst the matter is being referred to the NAB, the people of the country expect the anti-corruption body to probe the matter in a comprehensive manner not only disclosing the names who have stashed their money abroad but also whether the money transferred is ill gotten or earned and transferred through fair means. Then the government can take requisite steps to bring the ill-gotten money back to the national exchequer.

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