Govt addressing FATF's concern, Asad informs Senate

Govt addressing FATF's concern, Asad informs Senate

The Senate resumed its session at the parliament house in Islamabad today with Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla in the chair.

The Senate was informed today that the tax reforms strategy will be introduced by the government to increase tax base in the country.

Finance Minister Asad Umar told the house during question hour that the new FBR chairman has been appointed and next week a meeting will be held with the FBR officials to discuss implementation of the reforms strategy. He said currently one million people are filling their tax returns and there is a room to further enhance the figure to about three million.

The Finance Minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will chair a high level meeting on Monday to discuss issues relating to currency smuggling and money service providers.  He said we have to take definite actions before the next meeting of FATF.

Asad Umar said the government has decided in principle to launch Diaspora and Sukuk bonds. He said some other initiatives will also be taken to improve the flow of remittances to the country.

Replying to a question, the Finance Minister said that the loan will be taken after taking the Parliament on board. He said a plan to this effect will be finalized in next one or two weeks and then it will be presented before the Parliament for discussion. He pointed out that exports saw decline and imports surged over the last five years, and the government had to obtain loans to fill the gaps. He said our effort is to address the root causes of the loans.

While responding to a calling attention notice, Asad Umar expressed the confidence and said Pakistan will come out of the FATF grey list by meeting its obligations.

He said that Pakistan has fifteen months to overcome its deficiencies relating to currency smuggling, hawala/hundi and terror financing.  He told the House that a national executive committee has been established under the chairmanship of the Finance Minister to address these issues.   He said that addressing these deficiencies is also in the greater interest of the country. He, however, said that Pakistan had serious reservations on its placement on the grey list.

Minister for Planning and Development Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar told the House that a comprehensive security blanket has been put in place for the security of CPEC. He said that special security division comprising nine battalions of Pakistan Army and six wings of civil armed force have been raised for the security of Chinese working on CPEC projects across the country.

The Planning Minister pointed out that there are certain elements who do not want CPEC to become a successful model. He said due to security related threats, special arrangements have been made for the CPEC. He said that the new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan is looking at all aspects of this mega project and will take it forward.

Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razzaq Dawood told the House in clear terms that Utility Stores Corporation is not being closed down. He said that we will rationalize its branches which have no business.  He said technology will also be introduced in USC to make it more efficient.  He said the USC faced loss of 4.7 billion rupees last year.

The House will now meet on Monday at three p.m.