PM’s ideas on money-laundering

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan has urged the West to do more to curb illegal offshore wealth, referring to the way action is taken against drug money or terror financing. Addressing Dialogue on Financing for Development on the sidelines of 74th Session of the UNGA in New York on Thursday he said illicit financial flows benefit the rich countries but has a detrimental effect on developing economies, i.e. causes poverty, destruction and lack of human development. The Premier told the participants that during the last ten years Pakistan’s debt has risen by four times due to corruption and money laundering.
The Prime Minister has echoed feelings and sentiments of the people not just in Pakistan but in other third world countries as well on the issue of money laundering as focus remains on developing countries while developed ones, that are indeed, the main beneficiaries of such practices, do almost nothing to curb it. It is known to all that ill-gotten money be it from Pakistan or other countries ends up in Western countries like Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Austria and Germany. Developing countries are affected ones and those where corruption money is welcomed like Western countries and so-called tax havens are the beneficiaries and the problem cannot be addressed without serious and genuine efforts by the latter. While developing countries are threatened of penalties under Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the developed ones have miserably failed to stop flow of such money to them and in many cases they are even not willing to cooperate when attempts are made to identify and repatriate the stolen money. This amounts to protection of tax evaders by the rich countries at the cost of development and miseries of the people living in the third world countries. The point raised by the Prime Minister, therefore, deserves serious consideration by all nations and firm action is needed to plug loopholes in their systems. As for Prime Minister’s observation that Pakistan’s debt burden increased due to looted money that was sent abroad, one wonders why the debt has multiplied during the last one year particularly when there is least developmental activity as compared to PML-N tenure. It is also worrisome that ninety among the 400 Pakistanis – who were found to be holding offshore assets in international tax havens according to the 2016 Pamama Papers leaks – have benefited from the tax amnesty scheme offered by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government. This raises doubts about the quality and purpose of the accountability process and the campaign against corruption.