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April 24, 2019

Finance secretary briefs NA body on FATF today

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April 24, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The finance secretary will brief the National Assembly (NA) standing committee on finance, revenue and economic affairs on issues related to Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs will also hold an in-camera session to get a briefing from the finance ministry on May 14 and 15 on the FATF.

Pakistan has finalised its compliance report on 20 actionable points of FATF which has been submitted. Authorities are confident that Islamabad has made significant progress to meet all the criteria of global anti-money laundering body. After evaluating the compliance report, the FATF will send its concerns”/”questionnaire”, if any, to Pakistan on April 30, which will be discussed in a meeting scheduled on May 13-17 between FATF and Pakistani officials in Colombo.

An official involved in matters pertaining to the FATF said that the major concern of the organisation is Terror Financing (TF). “We believe we have worked a lot and improved the system in the last six months. If Pakistan’s compliance report is evaluated purely on the basis of technical grounds, there is no need to be afraid of as we have made a great progress. However, geopolitical situation and certain lobbies are continuously propagating against Pakistan.”

The official said Pakistan has taken a lot of steps to improve the framework and taken action on matters related to TF. “Following the World Bank’s methodology, Pakistan has completed the exercise to control the TF. We have performed really well in past six months. All the measures have been taken for Pakistan’s own good and not for the sake of FATF.”

He said that the FATF meeting will be held on June 30 which will decide Pakistan’s status. There are certain lobbies working against Islamabad and India is on the front, he said adding that diplomatic communications with the friendly countries are underway and Pakistan has briefed them about the steps taken on these issues.

Asked whether Pakistan has increased the conviction rate on suspicious transaction reports (STRs), the official said that there is a certain process for enhancing this rate. “But we have to follow the judicial procedure. However, the prosecution has been strengthening on STRs. With the passage of time the conviction rate on STR will automatically increase after the improved prosecution system.”

The Standing Committee on Finance will also take into consideration the Microfinance Institutions (Amendment) Bill 2019, moved by Ms. Sajida Begum and will discuss the work plan assigned by a special body on agricultural products to uplift agriculture development and increase in funds for research and development works in agriculture sector.

The forum will take into account the leveraging of the support of international agencies (World Bank, Asian Development Bank etc.); farmer’s access to insurance, investment and finance; enhancement of subsidies for agriculture sector and support for inputs in agriculture sector.

The panel will get the compliance report from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) regarding the implementation status on the recommendations particularly made by the committee in its previous meetings to budgetary proposals received from various stakeholders including chambers of commerce and industries, real estate sector, Pakistan Tyre Importers and Dealers Association etc.

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs will also be briefed about the steps initiated by Saudi government to release Pakistani prisoners as announced by the Saudi Crown Prince during his recent visit to Pakistan; the case of Pakistani women (Fatima wife of Mustafa) executed in Saudi Arabia whereas her daughter has been repatriated to Pakistan.

The body will discuss the concerns of Pakistani travelers at airports with regard to non-professional and non-cooperative attitude of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officers and staffers and get updated status of Pakistani prisoners abroad and legal support by the Foreign Office.

The committee will hold discussion on security issues, xenophobia, murder, kidnappings and robberies of expatriate Pakistanis in South Africa and other countries.

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