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August 10, 2018

PTI govt to form panel for repatriating $200b: Asad

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August 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar said that his party had decided in principle to constitute a formal task force to finalise recommendations for repatriation of $200 billion owned by Pakistanis stashed in Swiss and other foreign bank accounts.

“Yes, we have decided to constitute a formal task force comprising all the stakeholders after formation of government with the mandate to recommend ways and means for returning of billions of dollars owned by Pakistanis abroad. The task force will have specific Terms of Reference (ToRs) and will finalise its report in the light of ToRs,” the PTI’s minister-in-waiting for finance Asad Umar confirmed when The News contacted him for seeking his comments on Thursday night. He said that the former minister for finance Ishaq Dar had given estimates of $200 billion lying abroad owned by Pakistanis on the floor of the House in 2014 while replying to one of his queries. Later on, he said that FBR former chairman Tariq Bajwa had also referred these estimates in one of official summaries, he added.

He said that he did not have exact figure on this account but this upcoming task force going to be constituted under the PTI regime would scrutinise the whole details and would recommend ways and means to repatriate stashed amount running into billions of dollars. However, with these rough estimates, the last PML-N-led regime approved an amnesty scheme known as Foreign Asset Declaration Scheme by offering them attractive rates but this scheme had failed to ensure whitening of foreign assets in a big way. There were total 82,848 declarants who whitened assets valuing Rs2.5 trillion through domestic and foreign tax amnesty schemes as 5,363 availed themselves of foreign tax amnesty and 77,485 got domestic amnesty. Pakistan had received $366 million so far from abroad as cash on account of offshore tax amnesty scheme. The FBR had sent tax notices to a few thousands who submitted declarations but did not pay due amount and now they would be bound to pay full 35 percent tax on their assets.

The FBR received taxes of Rs24 billion in July and Rs97 billion in June out of total tax amnesty scheme. This figure of Rs121 billion will go up by a few billions more and it may touch Rs126 to Rs127 billion. However, after elections of July 25, the pace did not pick but prior to elections, there was one day when the FBR received Rs6 billion in shape of due tax on whitening of assets under this amnesty scheme.

The foreign amnesty scheme had miserably failed and proved futile owing to variety of reasons as it was availed themselves mainly by those who possessed 100 percent documented assets abroad and they were not finding any difficulty for declaring them inside Pakistan by paying very attractive tax rates. Such people having documented and legal assets consulted their lawyers and chartered accountants who advised them to whiten their assets at much lower tax rates. Second only those availed themselves of this scheme who took risks just like gambling with the expectations that this risk would help them in their future endeavours.

Some big business giants did not avail themselves this scheme because of their apprehensions that any mis-declaration would make it null and void. When they witnessed that PTI had won July 25 elections and the incoming PTI-led government might kickstart scrutinising assets of first largest 100 declarants silently to ascertain whether they had any misdeclaration and if found guilty, their declaration could become null and void.

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