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Laws regulating flow of foreign exchange to be improved

KARACHI: The government has decided to bring improvement and changes in the laws regarding disclosure of assets held abroad by Pakistanis. This was decided in a meeting chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in Islamabad on Wednesday.

The meeting reviewed proposals and recommendations on bringing about improvement and changes in the laws regulating the inflow and outflow of foreign exchange in the country, as well as disclosure of assets held abroad by Pakistanis.

The meeting was held following the controversy and political bickering after Panama Papers leaks surfaced. The debate has assumed proportions of a crisis in the country. The spotlight has been on undisclosed properties of Pakistanis in foreign countries.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan(SECP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) submitted their separate reports, as desired by the finance minister.

Mr Dar previously directed the abovementioned institutions to evolve recommendations on the methodology to plug loopholes in the system that allow tax evasion/avoidance and illegal transfer of foreign exchange from the country.

According to a press release issued by the finance ministry, Mr Dar said in the meeting that the government has resolved to regulate the foreign exchange inflow and outflow in the country and introduce better more effective laws regarding disclosure of assets held abroad by Pakistanis.

The three institutions also made presentations on the progress with regard to finance minister’s directions for cross-verification and investigation in cases of people having resident status and holding interest in offshore companies as disclosed in Panama Papers.

The minister issued directions for early completion of the verification and advised the three institutions to further improve and firm up their recommendations after mutual consultation, following which a detailed report will be presented to the finance minister.

The minister said the government has resolved to regulate inward and outward movement of foreign exchange in the country. It also seeks to put in place an effective law regarding disclosure of overseas assets of Pakistani citizens. He said amendments in the relevant laws would be made in the light of the recommendations put forth by the SBP, SECP and FBR.