Sunday June 04, 2023

Getting Pakistan out of FATF greylist: PM approves new strategy

October 27, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister, Imran Khan, formally approved a new strategy for implementation of 27 conditions of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to get Pakistan out of its grey list.

Imran chaired a high level meeting of the whole economic team as well as representatives of business community here on Saturday. The prime minister congratulated the departments concerned and their staff over improved ranking of Pakistan in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2020 Study. The prime minister also postponed the implementation of ‘axle load’ for one year on the motorways to facilitate the business community. The business community was demanding the government to move towards axle load in a gradual manner, as its implementation had increased cost of transportation causing further slowdown in economic activities. Keeping in view this demand, the PM talked to the stakeholders and decided to waive implementation of the axle load for next one year.

The meeting also discussed reasons for increased commodity prices, especially wheat flour and sugar. On the wheat flour, the government has already imposed a ban on exports but its effective implementation came under discussion. The meeting also discussed banning of supplying refined wheat flour to Afghanistan keeping in view the stock situation in the country. In the context of Sindh, the meeting discussed wheat stock position and argued that there is no justification for increase in the prices of flour. On sugar, it was the view that there is no justification for surge in the sugar prices and the Ministry of Commerce and Industries was instructed to come up with a comprehensive strategy to overcome its escalating prices in the domestic prices without any rationale.

The Prime Minister, Imran Khan, said positive developments were occurring on the economic front but some distractors were portraying only negative picture of economy. In the context of World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report for 2020 where Pakistan ranking improved by 28 notches and stood at 108th position among 190 economies of the world, the premier was of the view that this positive reflection should be shared with the masses through the media.

Discussion also occurred about role of media and journalists who are portraying only negative picture of the economy but it was also argued that the government must share its positive side of the story with balanced and impartial journalists. For further improving the ranking of the country in WB’s Ease of Doing Business Report, the meeting was told that the corporate rehabilitation act required settling issues related to non-performing loans and billions of rupees worth of non-performing loans (NPLs) were stuck up with the superior judiciary. Over Rs400 billion cases of NPLs were stuck up in High Courts.

Former finance minister and renowned business tycoon Shaukat Tareen complained that local investors should be encouraged for achieving sustained growth. He said the overall investment climate could not be improved without boosting the confidence of local investors. The Governor State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir said exchange rate stability has restored the confidence of investors in Pakistan’s economy.

Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub told the meeting that a major Japanese company Morinaga is interested in investing in the power sector. The meeting also asked the government to reduce the burden of taxes. The rate of corporate tax rate needs to be rationalized on the lower side.

The Chairman FBR assured the meeting that the corporate sector tax rates would be discussed with the IMF, as reduction in rates could not be done without taking the Fund into confidence.

The business tycoons raised the issue of stuck-up refunds and complained that they were not getting due refunds. The chairman FBR said only those exporters got refunds in a single day who had submitted documents along with Annex H in their filed returns. “We have paid Rs1.1 billion out of a total of submitted claims of Rs1.5 billion” he said and added he could be held accountable if someone submitted claims and he did not get the refunds well in time.

A presentation was made on the SMEs sector in Pakistan where private sector involvement was emphasized upon and it was decided that SMEs definition would be agreed upon for moving ahead towards promotion of this neglected sector.