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Think tank mulls over Digital Account Offering for Pak expats

By Our Correspondent
May 28, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Think Tank, a body constituted by the prime minister, has mulled over options of Digital Account Offering for overseas Pakistanis.

According to official announcement, the forth meeting the Think Tank was held under the chair of Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. All other members of the group also participated, while SBP governor joined it on a special invitation.

During the meeting, the work done by Finance & Banking Committee remained under primary focus apart from the feedback from Committee on Social Safety Nets. Sultan Ali Allana presented the joint work of committee on Banks and Financial Institutions to improve liquidity and credit for individuals and businesses. The emphasis remained on Digital Account Offering for overseas Pakistanis, with reference to its objectives, key processes, product features as well as key regulatory and administrative challenges.

Shoukat Tarin and Sultan Ali Allana jointly shared other proposals too, including suggestions on enhancement of temporary relief facilities, expanding lending to SMEs and enabling demand growth through expanding consumer lending and encouraging housing finance.

The adviser on commerce and Dr Ishrat Husain sensitized about the need for due diligence with reference to potentially adverse effects of the new scheme on existing remittances/ products, FATF concerns and harmonisation of all initiatives aimed at promotion of digital economy. The experience of Pakistan Banao Certificate needs to be kept as benchmark to plug potential loopholes while offering new product.

Advisor Finance stressed on the need for demand trials in pursuit of developing target market. The proposal by Arif Habib for reduction of Nadra fee in data verification process got particular endorsement from other members, as this wholly public-owned entity should not keep profit as primary motive in its operations.

Governor, SBP appreciated various recommendations of the Committee on improving liquidity for individuals and businesses and shared that the SBP, in collaboration with MOF (Ministry of Finance) and CDNS (Central Directorate of National Savings), has been in final phase of launching a saving product for overseas Pakistanis, in partnership with banks and the CDNS, where much work has already been sorted out.

Dr. Ishrat Husain and other participants raised concerns about the level of automation and digitisation within the CDNS and stressed for the need of combining of SBP’s and Committee’s proposals to offer more robust and legally compliant solution.

Shoukat Tarin briefed that multiple consultative sessions of Committee have been held with Naya Pakistan Housing Authority and other stakeholders, on shaping recommendations for boosting investments in housing sector and promotion of multiple financing options. It was further informed that committee report was ready for sharing with the group members to attract constructive feedback.

Dr jaz Nabi shared the Committee’s assessment on Ehsaas programme, with reference to key areas of concerns and briefed the participants about various recommendations shaped so far. The participants felt the need for engaging Dr Sania Nishtar in the next meeting to have better understanding on moving forward. Provincial coordination issues were also highlighted which need to be resolved for smooth implementation of matters like tax harmonisation.

Dr Hafezz Shaikh shared holistic capture of all the main arguments presented in the meeting. He advised the finance secretary to organise meeting of the SBP with Shoukat Tarin, Sultan Ali Allana and Arif Habib, to have understanding of bilateral point of view on the features, processes and allied aspects of Digital Account Scheme, with a view to evolve consensus on unified practical approach. Moreover, other proposals of Committee also need to be deliberated with the SBP in the same meeting to have clarity about way forward.