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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to set up a cell in the central bank to facilitate overseas Pakistanis in response to their suggestions to increase the inflows in the Roshan Digital Account (RDA).

Speaking at the ceremony organised to mark the achievement of $500 million milestone inflows in the RDA, the prime minister said that “there should be a cell in the central bank to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis on their suggestions because in this way remittances and accounts would increase rapidly in RDA.

He also recounted that the huge current account deficit of $20 billion inherited by the present government whose impact on exchange rate was adverse and consequently stoke inflation in the country.

When the currency depreciated, the price of imported items went up and affected the people, the prime minister added.

The prime minister said soon he realized the importance to build the foreign exchange reserves to bring about stability in reserves and from day one it was in his mind to tap the potential of overseas Pakistanis.

He said that growth of inflows in RDA was important to provide support to the country in repayment of debt, and stated that the present government has rapid $20 billion debt and made interest payment of Rs6 trillion.

The prime minister said that economic indicators were moving in the positive direction, despite huge debt liabilities, which reflects the country was moving in the right direction.

He also suggested launching a planned advertisement campaign to increase the number of accounts in RDA by overseas Pakistanis, while acknowledging the role of banks in this regard.

The prime minister said that banks would also benefit from the economic growth, the country would achieve with the help of remittances by the overseas Pakistanis in RDA.

The premier said that he also needed support from banks for Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme and small and medium enterprises (SME) as these two sectors can lift economic growth

The prime minister expressed his pleasure over the record increase in the country's exports, at a time when the economies around the world were badly affected by the pandemic.

The prime minister said that 87,000 Roshan Digital Accounts have been opened in 97 countries, and added that overseas Pakistanis are the biggest asset of the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Governor SBP Reza Baqir said that “we have achieved the milestone of $500 million and there is no restriction from the SBP for taking money abroad from RDA.”

He further stated that the overseas Pakistanis have been provided a path through RDA to make investment in Naya Pakistan certificates, and invest in real estate with a single click (through digital methods).

He added that the RDA was initiated three months before and acknowledged the facilitation provided by the Finance Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Governor SBP Reza Baqir unveiled three major new policy steps that have been taken to improve RDA. First, the tax regime around RDA has been streamlined to allow the tax paid at source on profits on investments in NPC, shares, mutual funds, and property to be full and final and thus Overseas Pakistanis will not be required to file any tax return. Second, with the help of some correspondent banks, the cost of transferring funds internationally to and from RDA accounts has been reduced considerably to between $5 and $9 for most transactions. Third, in response to demand from Overseas Pakistanis in Europe and the UK, the Government has now introduced NPCs in Euro and British Pound, in addition to the existing US and Rupee-denominated certificates. He hoped that these changes would attract even more Overseas Pakistanis to open an RDA and vowed to continue to innovate to meet their needs.

Overseas Pakistani RDA holders joined the event online from the USA, UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Oman to share their experiences and suggestions with the Prime Minister.

Later, the Prime Minister presented mementos to the Presidents of the banks with the best performance to date, including United Bank for opening the highest number of accounts; Meezan Bank for generating the highest amount of funds and attracting the highest amount of investment in Islamic Naya Pakistan Certificates; Habib Bank for attracting the highest amount of investment in conventional Naya Pakistan Certificates; and Bank Alfalah for special efforts in marketing.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021