Pakistan plans digital bank to lift remittances from UAE

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Pakistan plans digital bank to lift remittances from UAE

Dubai - The remittances grew 10 per cent to $10.71 billion during first half of financial year 2018-19.

By Waheed Abbas

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Published: Tue 29 Jan 2019, 9:10 PM

A complete package of incentives will soon be introduced for overseas Pakistanis who'll send remittances through banking channels, a senior Pakistani official said.
Zulfikar Bukhari, special ssistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, pointed out that existing remittances cards issued by banks will be reformed and new points systems be introduced.
"Now we are working on a full package. We don't want to come here every day and say that if you send this much remittances, you will get PIA tickets or free passport renewal. We are bringing a new point system so when overseas Pakistanis will remit money, they will get points which can be redeemed; so this whole new programme will be introduced in the next few months," said Bukhari.
He pointed out that digital bank will also be introduced which could help substantially increase remittances through legal channels and reduce funds inflow through hawala system.
"Digital banking is popular in Singapore, Malaysia and India. Digital banking will help bring people using hawala channel in the fold to remit funds through this digital bank. There are no facts available about funds remitted via hawala channels, but it's estimated that around $18 to $20 billion are remitted through it annually to Pakistan. So even if we get half of that through banking channels, it will be around $10 billion extra. And this is what the government is targeting now. Hopefully, this digital bank will be operational this year," Bukhari told media on the sidelines of a dinner hosted by Pakistan Business Council.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan's latest data, remittances grew 10 per cent to $10.71 billion during first half of financial year 2018-19 as compared to $9.74 billion during the corresponding periodlast year. Remittances from the UAE to Pakistan grew six per cent to $2.29 billion during the first-half of financial year.
In addition, Bukhari said, those who would be registered with the Overseas Pakistan Foundation (OPF) will get additional benefits with regard to their kids' schooling and health insurance through OPF card. He, however, ruled out opening any new OPF schools and said focus would be to improve education of existing schools.
In order to facilitate investments in real estate sector, Bukhari revealed that a new legislation will be introduced to fast-track court cases related to illegal confiscation of properties of overseas Pakistani by land mafia.
"A large number of overseas Pakistanis buy properties in the country but their properties are illegally seized by others. So, we are working with the Ministry of Law and Justice on bringing a new legislation to fast-track court cases whereby the verdict will be out in 30 days," Bukhari said.
He also noted that government is working with Pakistani community in the UAE and local authorities here in the Emirates to help Pakistanis stuck in jails. He urged law firms owned by Pakistanis to come forward and help the government in releasing those people who are behind the bars even after serving their jail terms due to minor issues. -

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