Thursday January 20, 2022

Pandora Papers: Senate panel to get briefing from FBR chief, The News journalists

October 06, 2021
Pandora Papers: Senate panel to get briefing from FBR chief, The News journalists

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance Tuesday took note of names of over 700 Pakistanis appearing in the Pandora Papers and expressed its concerns over flight of capital from the country at a time when the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was set to scrutinise Pakistan’s position during the ongoing month.

The committee met under chairmanship of Senator Talha Mehmood here at the Parliament House, who expressed his anger over absence of the FBR chairman and finance secretary from the meeting. The panel was informed that the finance secretary was busy in holding virtual meetings with the IMF. The committee chairman said the IMF had destroyed Pakistan’s economy.

Senator Sherry Rehman from the PPP raised the issue of offshore accounts and the unprecedented upward adjustments in exchange rate. The panel chairman declared it a matter of great importance and said that the name of Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin was also included in the Pandora Papers. The FBR was asked to come up with full preparation and give a detailed briefing on Pandora Papers.

The standing committee decided to include the issue of Pandora Papers in the agenda of the next meeting, to be held on Oct 22 by summoning the FBR chairman and The News journalists Umar Cheema and Fakhar Durrani, who conducted investigation for the leak. An FBR senior officer told the panel that if assets were declared, then it was legitimate to have offshore assets.

Sherry Rehman said the Pakistani rupee crossed Rs171 mark against the US dollar, which may reach 180 according to Fitch, current account deficit reached 81 per cent, the FDI declined by 20 per cent during the last months, trade deficit widened, while petroleum products reached all-time high in the country, which were resulting in inflation, impacting businesses and causing unemployment.

Some representatives of the Flour Mills Association briefed the meeting on non-payment of rebate on the wheat import/export from 2015 to 2017. The committee was informed that 50:50 payment was supposed to be made by the federation and the provinces, respectively but it was not done. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) deputy governor informed the committee that there were two schemes, one for 2015-16 and the other for 2017; however, these were time barred.

The finance secretary informed the committee that after the approval of the ECC, the Ministry of Finance would release the funds. The committee directed the finance ministry for arranging a meeting of the SBP, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, and the Flour Association to resolve the matter at the earliest.