Finance minister rules out placement of Pakistan on FATF blacklist

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ISLAMABAD: Ruling out placement of Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) blacklist, Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Friday that the negotiated action plan with the FATF would be implemented.

Answering a calling attention notice in the Senate, he said September 2019 was the deadline for compliance, observing that Pakistan would finally be out of the grey-list.

He said 27 deficiencies in five broad categories had been identified in Pakistan’s anti-money laundering and terror financing regime, adding that the basic areas identified were currency smuggling, hawala and financing to proscribed organisations.

Action plan negotiated with the anti-terror financing watchdog will be implemented, Asad Umar tells Senate

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He told the house that he saw as an opportunity what many regarded as a challenge. “There is nothing we cannot comply with. FATF or no FATF, it is in our own national interest,” he remarked.

He said a national executive committee had been formed to deal with the issue which included representatives from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other relevant institutions. He said the first review meeting of the committee would be held on Sept 8.

He, however, said that Pakistan had its reservations over the procedure adopted to place it on the grey-list. Regretting that it was an exceptional treatment, he said even friendly countries did not support Pakistan.

Also Read: 150-page questionnaire: FATF asks Pakistan to submit reply by 31st

He said it was not for the first time that Pakistan was facing such a situation, adding that the country had earlier been placed on the grey-list twice — in 2008 and 2012. He said though placement on the grey-list was a negative signal, it did not mean trade or banking sanctions in near future.

The finance minister said a team of FATF visited Pakistan from Aug 13 to 16, but the visit was not linked with the review of implementation status. He said the first review meeting would be held in Jakarta on Sept 11 and 12.

Moving the calling attention notice earlier, Sherry Rehman of the Pakistan Peoples Party had asked the minister to explain as what indication had the FATF team given about short and medium-term future of Pakistan with respect to the list. She also asked as to what was being done to avoid blacklisting and getting off the grey-list.

The finance minister on Friday expressed optimism that Pakistan would be out of the FATF grey-list.

Earlier, during the question hour, the finance minister said the decision to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package would be made by parliament. He said no decision to this effect had yet been taken, adding a final decision would be taken only after a debate in parliament.

Asked as to how much money would Pakistan borrow from the IMF, he said according to budget figures there was a requirement of $9 billion.Mr Umar said a comprehensive plan for the revival of the economy would be placed before parliament mid-September.

Also during the question hour, the Ministry of Science and Technology in a written reply informed the House that there was no statutory law which allowed the National Testing Service (NTS) to conduct academic performance evaluation tests; however, government organisations and departments carried out recruitment by hiring the services of third party testing and assessment service providers.

The House was told that there were around 22 testing and assessment service providers across Pakistan and the NTS was one of them. Most of these are private limited companies with private individuals as their owners.

The reply said the NTS was not owned by any individual or specific person as it is a not-for -profit organisation and registered with the SECP as a section 42 company under the Companies Ordinance, 1984. The COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) is promoter organisation of the NTS.

The NTS has over 15 years of experience in educational and professional testing and assessment. By February 2018, the NTS has administered 7,055 tests and assessments in various disciplines for educational assessment, scholarships, recruitments and promotion purposes. More than 18.7 million candidates from reputable associates and partner institutions and organisations have appeared in NTS tests since its inception.

(This news/article originally appeared in DAWN on September 1st , 2018)

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