Tapping expatriates only way in absence of export boost: PM


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said that the overseas Pakistanis, especially workers are an asset of the country, and keeping the economy of the country moving must be the priority of the Pakistani embassies.

While speaking as chief guest at a ceremony in connection with celebrating $1 billion mark in Roshan Digital Accounts, launching of ‘Roshan Apni Car’ and ‘Roshan Samaaji Khidmat’ through Roshan Digital Account, the prime minister said that if a fraction of overseas Pakistanis is tapped, it would provide a cushion to balance of payment position as no one in the past had tried to increase the exports, and low exports had been the primary impediment to growth.

He said that as long as exports were not increased to the level of the imports, the only way to bridge the balance of payment is by tapping the overseas Pakistanis.

The PM said his message to the embassies was that their important duty must be to look after the Pakistani workers in their respective countries.

The prime minister said that the Pakistani embassy

in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) staff had mistreated the Pakistani workers instead of taking care of them, and he called a full scale inquiry on the ambassador, and most of the staff would be called back, and those responsible for mistreating and asking for money would be made an example.

He added that two new products being launched, "Apni Car" and "Samaaji Khidmat" would also be a success story, and asked the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor to benefit from the services of Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin because he had special expertise in marketing.

He said that there is a huge potential in Roshan Digital Account because so far only $1 billion has been remitted by over hundred and twenty or thirty thousand Pakistanis, whereas, nine million Pakistanis are living abroad.

The prime minister said that whenever the country’s growth rate started increasing, there was pressure on the current account deficit and consequently, the growth was hit by a boom and bust cycle.

The prime minister said that eventual shortage of dollar had compelled the country to seek the International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s help and the country has so far taken over 20 Fund programme.

He said that Shaukat Tarin had tried to increase the remittances as finance minister during his first term, and now the present government has started to tap the overseas Pakistanis.

The prime minister said with the low-cost housing scheme picking up gradually, there would be pressure on current account, subsequent to increase in import and overseas Pakistan would be the only option to bridge the gap to ensure that there is no crunch of current account deficit.

Earlier, speaking at the ceremony, Governor SBP Reza Baqir said that overseas Pakistanis are a great asset and remitted $1 billion in Roshan Digital Account during the last seven months.

This was success of Pakistan and the Prime Minister’s vision, he said that the scheme was introduced for overseas Pakistanis to enable them to open their digital account from any part of the country and deposit and withdraw money easily at any time.

He also acknowledged the support of the prime minister, the Finance Ministry, the FBR, the Foreign Office, and bank officials’ support to achieve this milestone.

Baqir said that so far, the SBP's focus in Roshan Digital Accounts has been to create facilities for overseas Pakistanis to remit money and easily invest in Naya Pakistan Certificates and stock market schemes; however, the SBP's vision was now to introduce new products and new ideas and "Roshan Apni Car" is being launched that would enable overseas Pakistanis to purchase cars for their family members digitally while sitting abroad.

The governor SBP said the interest rate on the Roshan Apni Car scheme would be relatively less and fulfillment time would be half.

He said that he was thankful to car manufacturers and assemblers for their cooperation, and created this facility through Roshan brand, which was unavailable before in the country.

Baqir said that second scheme "Roshan Samaaji Khidmat" is even more important than the first one as overseas Pakistanis love their country and wanted to contribute for charitable causes.

He said that the entire concept is to create facilities for them, hence the SBP along with Ehsaas, different hospitals and charities created an easy way for overseas Pakistanis to contribute digitally for all these goods works.

These opportunities are being made available to them at Roshan Digital Portal from Thursday, he added.

“We will introduce more products in the coming days," he said and announced to launch idea phone before asking the youth to suggest ideas as to what else should be introduced in Roshan brand to create facilities for the common man.

He said that Roshan digital account is an example and target of the SBP to transform the financial system of the country with the vision to create facilities for the common man and what role financial system can play.

He said that banking is very easy for rich and businessmen as banks are always ready to lend them and the SBP by launching Roshan digital account created facilities for overseas who had no voice.

He said that the SBP goal is to transform the financial system in a way that it should support the common man, which is not properly available at present.

The governor SBP also appreciated support of various ministries and banks to the Roshan digital accounts, and stated that some examples were housing and construction, and because of the prime minister’s vision credit to housing and construction sector has crossed over Rs200 billion, adding that never in the history of the country lending to housing and construction was increased in such a way during the nine months.

He said that the SBP would work on mark up subsidy scheme to remove hurdles and train the banks staffs to support he common man.

“We have to provide facilities of loans access to the SMEs and agriculture sector and SBP was working with government departments in this regard,” added the governor SBP.