Potential of overseas Pakistanis to be tapped for economic growth: PM

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said the government was committed to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis so as to tap their immense potential and divert their financial contribution towards economic growth.

He said Roshan Digital Accounts, introduced for overseas Pakistanis to send their money to Pakistan with ease, would help gain stability of the local currency.

Addressing here at an event by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to mark Roshan Digital Accounts crossing $500 million in foreign remittances, the Prime Minister said Pakistan was gaining economic stability as the government took effective steps in right direction.

In last five months, the overseas Pakistanis from 97 countries have opened over 80,000 Roshan Digital accounts and sent $500 million to the country.

The ceremony held at PM House was attended by Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, PM’s Adviser on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, Commerce Advisor Abdul Razak Dawood, along with brand ambassadors of banks including squash legend Jahangir Khan, and former cricketers Rameez Raja and Waqar Younis.

Imran Khan termed around nine million overseas Pakistanis the ‘biggest asset of the country’ and said the strategy involving banking sector had yielded successful results in increased foreign remittances.

He asked the State Bank of Pakistan to maintain a constant touch with Pakistani community abroad and set up a round-the-clock Facilitation Cell to guide them about account opening and related queries.

He stressed a more focused and innovative advertisement campaign on Roshan Digital Accounts to be run on electronic media across the world.

The Prime Minister appreciated the role of banking sector in encouraging the account opening by overseas Pakistanis, adding that the money inflow would play a significant role in giving strength to national economy.

Besides Roshan Digital, he asked the banks to also focus on two more sectors, namely Naya Pakistan Housing project for construction of low-cost residences and the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to uplift less-privileged segment of society.

Both of these areas are important in bringing improvement in the lives of common man, he added.

The Prime Minister said the country’s all economic indicators were witnessing positive trends despite the situation of coronavirus pandemic.

He mentioned that the volume of Pakistan’s exports crossed its competitors in the sub-continent including India and Bangladesh.

The textile industry boomed and the power looms in Faisalabad and Gujranwala faced shortage of workers due to the record number of orders received from international market, he added.

Governor SBP Dr Reza Baqir said the overseas Pakistanis could open their accounts with Pakistani banks right from their computers at homes and without going to embassies.

He said the deposited money was directly made repatriable to the bank-account holder, which earlier was not possible without the permission of the State Bank of Pakistan.

He announced that on desire of overseas Pakistanis to reduce transfer fee on transactions, only $5-9 would be charged, no matter how big the amount would be.

The Prime Minister awarded the banks for their best performance towards Roshan Digital Accounts, including UBL (highest number of accounts opened), Meezan Bank (highest amount received in Roshan Digital and also for highest amount received for Islamic Naya Pakistan certificates), HBL (highest amount received in conventional Naya Pakistan certificates) and Bank Alfalah (appreciation of marketing efforts).

The overseas Pakistanis including Hamid (United States), Mehdi Raza (United Kingdom), Mansoor Khan (Saudi Arabia), Syeda Paikar Zahra (Oman) and Noor ur Rehman Abid (Bahrain) via video-conference lauded the Prime Minister’s initiative of Roshan Digital Accounts particularly for its high interest rate and user-friendly process. They also suggested proposals to include local currency conversion and ensure information privacy.