Wednesday June 12, 2024

Pak Embassy in Saudi Arabia extorting money from labourers: PM

By Mumtaz Alvi
April 30, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said a high-level inquiry had been ordered against the Pakistani embassy in Saudi Arabia, which used to extort money from labourers and the ambassador was being probed and those responsible will be given an exemplary punishment.

The prime minister said overseas Pakistanis had saved the economy of this country but it was unfortunate to say that our embassies were not treating these hard working people well. “These are very special people. We can't give them jobs here, which is why they are forced to work away from their families,” he said.

He was addressing the Roshan Digital Account function here. Imran Khan wished success to Roshan Apni Car and Roshan Samaji Khidmat products. The premier contended that nine million Pakistanis lived outside the country and “if we bring a part of it to the Roshan Digital Account (RDA), this figure could change.” He noted that the remittances through RDA had crossed dollars 1 billion, which was tip of the iceberg and called for tapping this potential of overseas Pakistanis.

In this connection, he called for benefiting from Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, who he said, had vast experience in marketing.

In the past, no efforts were made to increase exports, which resulted in pressure on Pak rupee and forcing to approaching IMF. The prime minister emphasized that he wanted to send a message to the embassies that their primary responsibility was to take care of the working class living abroad.

“It is learned that the Pakistani embassy in Saudi Arabia did not do what it was supposed to do for Pakistani workers. I am conducting an inquiry into the ambassador and recalling as many staff as possible and will take action against those responsible for the outcome of the inquiry,” he said.

“We will give them exemplary punishments. Their job is to help our labourers but they used to take money from them there. Pakistan's problem has been that no one has tried to increase exports, which has been an obstacle to Pakistan's development,” he said.

He explained that the biggest hurdle in our growth rate had been the decline in exports, which had led to depreciation of the dollar and it had been a great tragedy that no one had made a long-term plan in this regard.

Premier Imran Khan was of firm belief that unless we increased our exports, we have the option of remittances from overseas Pakistanis. “We need to consider this in the SBP, the Finance Ministry, so that this gap can be filled until exports increase. Our banks are not in the habit of lending to the weaker sections, so they need to train their staff. As soon as people start investing more and more in the construction sector, it will put pressure on the current account and our exports will increase,” he said.

However, he emphasized that overseas Pakistanis need to be approached during this period while at present record remittances had been received from overseas Pakistanis but it was still very little, as long as our exports do not increase, it can fill this gap.

The prime minister said, “The more work we do in this regard, the easier it will be for us and the current account will not go into deficit, as the current account deficit depreciates the rupee and foreign exchange does not come when the currency is unstable”.