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December 9, 2018

Who misfed PM Imran Khan?

Top Story

December 9, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Who misfed Prime Minister Imran Khan that his government had signed agreements with 26 countries for exchange of information about billions of dollars hidden abroad by Pakistanis?

In his recent interview with anchors of different TV channels, the prime minister claimed that soon after coming into power it was his government which had signed agreements with 26 countries to get information about the money of Pakistanis stashed in foreign countries. Taking this credit, he even said these agreements were not signed by the previous governments. 

However, the fact as reported by The News on Friday is that not even a single agreement has been signed by the PTI government with any foreign country yet for exchange of information for recovery of billions of dollars hidden abroad by Pakistanis. Instead, the information which has started pouring in from many countries as mentioned by the prime minister is the consequence of a convention signed by Pakistan during the PML-N government.

It is not clear who’s misinformed the prime minister on this issue which rather brought embarrassment to him, as the credit which he had claimed for his government actually belonged to the previous PML-N government. Strangely, the wrong information provided to the prime minister was not cross-checked by his aides owing to which Imran Khan’s opponents got the opportunity to discredit him.

As reported by The News, Islamabad has started receiving information about Pakistanis’ wealth abroad as a consequence of an international convention called “Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters” of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD), which is aimed at curbing growing tax-evasion and has become effective from September this year. With over 100 member countries, the convention signed by former finance minister Ishaq Dar on 14th September 2016 at the OECD Headquarters in Paris allows member countries to get automatic information about Pakistanis’ wealth and investment in the member countries.

In Pakistan’s case, the convention became effective in September this year after few weeks of arrival of the PTI government. Senior FBR sources confirmed that the information the government was receiving from 26 countries and even more was the result of the legal framework signed in 2016 and which had becoming effective only a few months back. On September 14, 2016, the OECD itself announced that Pakistan had become the 104th jurisdiction to join the most powerful multilateral instrument against offshore tax-evasion and avoidance.

In another case, of late ratification of agreement between Pakistan and Switzerland for exchange of information about the Pakistani accounts in Swiss Banks, was also initiated and signed during the last PML-N regime. According to the FBR sources, the Pak-Swiss cooperation agreement was also initiated and signed during the PML-N government. These sources added that Pakistan had signed and ratified this agreement during the last regime but its ratification was done by the Swiss parliament just recently. It is also said that under the rules of business any such agreement between Pakistan and any foreign countries requires the federal cabinet’s approval. Prime Minister Imran Khan has chaired several cabinet meetings during the recent few months but no such treaty has come before the cabinet for approval.

According to one source, the prime minister should proceed against the person who misfed him. It is said that even an inquiry could be ordered to ascertain if it was done to discredit the prime minister.

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