Foreign Exchange Regulation Act to be amended

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VIAMuhammad Saleh Zaafir
SOURCEThe News
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ISLAMABAD: The government is bringing stricter legislation to curb money laundering and nab people involved in it.

All political parties in the parliament will be taken on board for the legislation so that new acts could be adopted conveniently in the two houses of the parliament. It is likely that the process of legislation would be commenced in the next session of the National Assembly. The decision has been taken in high echelon meeting held here at the Prime Minister Office (PMO) Wednesday and it was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Federal minister for Law and Justice Senator Dr Farough Nasim was among the attendees of the huddle. Prime Minister Khan on the occasion said that money laundering has inflicted serious and irreparable lose to the country’s economy.

The government would ensure to check the menace through strict actions. He asked the authorities concerned to step up their efforts against the money laundering as the people involved in it shouldn’t be spared.

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The meeting was also attended by federal finance minister Asad Umar, minster for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhary, state minister Sheharyar Khan Afridi, SAPM Yousaf Baig Mirza, Nadeem Afzal Chann and Iftikhar Durrani.

Senator Dr Farough Nasim briefed the meeting about the proposed legislation to check money laundering effectively while senior officials of the FIA, FBR, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Nadra threw light on the actions so far taken by various organisations to check siphoning off of money out of the country through illegal means.

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Imran Khan reiterated that money laundering could not be tolerated since it brings bad name to the country and hurt economy immensely. He recalled that his party has made the commitment with the people in its election campaign to stall money laundering and people who had been involved in it, shall be taken to the task.

The meeting also decided to merge certain articles of anti money laundering act into anti-terrorism act. It will help in bringing to book elements involved in the heinous business. The meeting also decided to introduce amendments in the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act (FERA) of 1947 by enhancing rigorous imprisonment to the offenders from two years to five years.

By the virtue of the amendment, violation of the act would become cognizable and non-bail able offence. The trial under FERA will be completed within six months to one year. The amendment will provide ten years rigorous imprisonment and fine with rupees five million to the offenders. The meeting also discussed the amendments in the anti terror laws.

The FIA gave briefing about its performance on account of money laundering from November 2018 to February 2019. The FIA registered 131 cases under FERA of 1947 and anti-money laundering laws. The FIA confiscated rupees 423.304 million and nabbed 198 people.

The agency took action against dubious transactions and it is in the process of probing of millions of rupees secretive currency complaints. The Prime Minister was briefed extensively about the benami accounts, properties in the United Arab Emirates and money laundering cases. The meeting was informed that s the result of the FIA steps the remittances through hawala hundi has been receded to great extent.

“Today difference of exchange of dollars between inter-bank and open market is left paisas 15 only. The remittances from the Pakistanis from abroad have increased by 12 percent. Chairman FBR Dr. Jahanzaib Khan briefed the Prime Minister about the actions taken by the board on account of properties of Pakistanis in foreign countries and actions in this regard. The Prime Minister was briefed about the powers of Custom and In-Land Revenue intelligence under the anti-money laundering act. It has made the working more effective. Under the currency declaration system11335 declarations were made on 24 points which was equal to 171.3 million dollars. The Customs officials briefed the Prime Minister about the seizer of 314 million dollars currency and other goods which is an improvement of 415 percent with the corresponding previous period.

The Customs received 335 reports regarding dubious transactions and 510 persons are under investigations. The authorities have recovered rupees 6600 million. The Prime Minister was informed that Chief Collect rate has been established in Quetta while enforcement collectorates have been set up in Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi. The meeting was informed that FBR created demand f rupees 14 billion from the properties of Pakistani expatriates and rupees six billion have been recovered so far. Rupees 278 million have been recovered in 556 cases in the UAE.

In the meanwhile addressing participants of Islamabad summit, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that today’s Pakistan has totally transformed and Naya Pakistan has become full of opportunities with peace and emerging social and economic avenues. The summit was attended by people from 25 countries and more than sixty delegates attended it.

They had meeting with the Prime Minister at the Prime Minister Office (PMO). Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce Razzak Dawood, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary, Chairman BOI Haroon Sharif, SAPM Naim ul Haq and Iftikhar Durrani were also present during the meeting.

Prime Minister Khan told the delegates that renowned international investors are making investment in Pakistan which depicts investment friendly policies of the government and result of ease of doing business in Pakistan that facilitate investment. Yet in another meeting with the Sikh and Hindu community representatives, Prime Minster Imran Khan assured the minorities that the government will continue to assure their rights protection in the country.

The meeting was also attended by federal minister Dr. Syed Nur ul Haq Qadri and SAPM Naim ul Haq while Ravi Kumar, Sardar Tara Singh, Sardar Maninder Paul, Dr. Romesh Kumar were representing the community. The Prime Minister announced that a task force is being set up to ascertain the corruption that was done in past in Evacuee Trust. The task force will submit proposals for restructuring of Evacuee Property Trust. It was decided that the trust would be handed over to a board of management which will have Sikhs and Hindu both included in it.

(This news/article originally appeared in The News on March 14th, 2019)

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