Finance ministry task force given 15 days to figure out dirty money repatriation

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SOURCEThe News
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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered the finance ministry task force established to pursue laundered Pakistani money parked overseas to submit its recommendations within two weeks, Minister for Finance Asad Umar said on Monday.

He said the government would first move against the Pakistani owners of $8 billion worth of properties in Dubai, the details of which have been previously made public by the UAE authorities.

Umar said the government was yet to ascertain the amount of illicit money deposited in secretive Swiss bank accounts. “We do not know exactly how much money has been stashed in Swiss bank accounts, but the former finance minister Ishaq Dar had given a figure of $200 billion on the floor of the House,” Umar said.

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He noted that the erstwhile Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government had not acted to repatriate the dirty money. “Now the PM has ordered to take steps to bring back money laundered from Pakistan,” Umar told reporters, after participating in the maiden meeting of the newly inducted federal cabinet here on Monday.However, independent experts believe the new government would have to establish a dedicated, empowered government office to get the job done. Only once it had established the facts and figures would it be able to formulate a strategy capable of repatriating un-taxed cash and assets.

The Swiss authorities have previously estimated that Pakistani hold cash deposits $90 billion in the country’s banks. Past efforts by Pakistan government agencies to investigate white collar crime failed to yield results.

In the case of the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement with Swiss authorities, the Swiss Parliament has not yet ratified its revised draft. The new government would have to lobby its Swiss counterpart to expedite the ratification before making an progress.

Turning his attention inwards, Umar said the budgetary projections made in May by the last government were “unrealistic”. The new governing coalition would present the real picture of the economy to the Parliament.

Also Read: Bringing back money sent abroad illegally is top priority: Asad

He said that the government would soon determine the timing of the launch of a dollar-denominated bond to be marketed to overseas Pakistanis. “We will take a decision in the next few days,” Umar said.

He said that the employees of the insolvent state enterprises, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Steel Mills, would not be made redundant as part of a planned restructuring. “The financial losses incurred by the PIA and PSM is not due to their employees. Holding employees responsible for financial losses is wrong,” Umar said.

(This news/article originally appeared in The News on August 22nd, 2018)

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