Non-Resident Pakistanis (NRPs) are facing issues for operating bank accounts in Pakistan due to limited banking services. Sources in banking sector told Business Recorder on Wednesday that banks are receiving a lot of complaints from NRPs that present regulations/ conditions for NRP accounts are discouraging overseas Pakistanis to open bank accounts and remit funds to Pakistan.
They informed that as per Chapter 8 of Foreign Exchange (FE) Manual there are some major restrictions on NRP accounts which are not applicable on accounts opened by Pakistani nationals. NRPs are also reluctant to open and operate accounts in Pakistan due to these restrictions. As regulations, banks are allowed to issue ATM cards as well as supplementary ATM cards to the individual non-resident rupee account holders, however, the withdrawals through ATM cards is only allowed in Pakistan. In this case, this ATM is useless outside Pakistan and NRPs are even unable to use their own money outside the country. Therefore, NRPs are hesitating to open and send money to Pakistan to their bank accounts, industry sources said.
Secondly, transactions through Internet Banking are blocked for NRPs customers and they can only view their account balance, while all other resident Pakistani nationals can enjoy all the funds transfer and bill payment facilities via Internet and Mobile Banking. In addition, for every transaction that NRPs do in their account, exceptions of a few, banks are required to submit Form A-7. In addition, the banks will, however, submit a consolidated statement showing ATM transactions in the said accounts to SBP on monthly basis.
As per regulation, the existing requirement of filling in Form A-7 on account of all withdrawals in Pak Rupee from the NRPs accounts for personal expenses would not be applicable to the ATM transactions. While, banks are required to submit Form A-7 for other banking transactions.
Sources said that third party cash withdrawals also cannot be made in NRPs account due to restricted nature of transactions, whereas this is a very common transaction by all Pakistani account holders. So they cannot give cheques to their maids, drivers and relatives to withdraw cash.
As per regulations, the applicant is also required to fill in Form A-7 in respect of the banking transactions. All transfer, clearing transactions (both debits & credits) should be accompanied with Form 'A-7' signed by NRPs and can only be done through a format in line with FE Manual Chapter 8.
Bankers said that this condition also seems illogical as NRP sitting outside Pakistan has to visit Pakistan every time they want to do a transaction.
They have suggested State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) that these anomalies or restrictions should be addressed immediately so banks can treat NRPs with the respect and like any other Pakistani.
Sources said that NRPs are motivated to open accounts in Pakistan and use them freely like any other account holders, however due to these restrictions many NRPs are hesitating in opening NRP accounts. They said that strict conditions are discouraging NRPs to keep their funds in Pakistan and it also affects Pakistan capability to attract foreign remittances. Banks are confident that with removal of restrictions, a large number of NRPs will open and operate accounts in Pakistan, which will also help to increase the inflows of home remittances.