The government has abolished the mandatory requirement for overseas Pakistanis to obtain the National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP), one of the sources of revenue for the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
It also reduced biometric verification charges for the labourers going abroad.
Both the decisions were taken during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan in the wake of a briefing given to him by the ministry of overseas Pakistanis and human resource development.
The government decided to undertake a couple of new initiatives to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis.
The prime minister also announced that the government would soon unveil a special incentives package aimed at encouraging the overseas Pakistanis to transfer remittances through banking channels.
He directed the ministry of finance, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), and the NADRA to submit a workable plan for removing bottlenecks in the remittance transfer mechanism using e-solutions.
“Had an extensive meeting this morning on overseas Pakistanis. We are going to announce a special package of incentives to encourage them to send remittances through banking channels by removing all hindrances and procedural issues. [The] Philippines did this successfully,” Khan tweeted after the meeting.
“By removing these hindrances, we will be able to increase remittance flows from $20bn to at least $30bn, and perhaps even $40bn, through banking channels,” he tweeted further.
The meeting was attended by, among others, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Media Iftikhar Durrani, the secretary to the prime minister, the finance secretary, the secretary for overseas Pakistanis and human resource development, the FBR and NADRA chairmen, and senior officials from the SBP, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, said the prime minister, is fully aware of problems faced by overseas Pakistanis in sending remittances and retaining their legal properties in Pakistan.
He added the government is trying to solve their problems expeditiously.
“Overseas Pakistanis are among national assets” and could play an important role in improving the country’s financial condition through remittances, said Khan.
The meeting also decided to reform civil and criminal laws, discouraging illegal occupation of properties owned by overseas Pakistanis.
It also discussed the matter of establishing special courts in this regard.
Khan stated that labourers earning low wages were already burdened with harsh working conditions abroad, and it is the government’s responsibility to facilitate them and provide necessary facilities and incentives for them and their families in the country.
Various incentives, including tax exemptions on remittances and several social welfare schemes, were also discussed during the meeting.
The prime minister warned that strict action would be taken against those occupying properties owned by the overseas Pakistanis.
Relevant directives would soon be issued to provincial governments and law-enforcement agencies in this regard, he added.
The meeting decided to establish connectivity between the ministry of overseas Pakistanis and human resource development and the NADRA to maintain records of the overseas Pakistanis, including the labourers.
Biometric verification charges for the labourers going abroad were reduced from Rs45 to Rs10 per verification.
The meeting also decided that the “family tree” record of Pakistanis working abroad would be shared with the ministry of overseas Pakistanis and human resource development, enabling it to provide them the benefits of health, education and accommodation.
Meanwhile, during a meeting with Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) senators at the Prime Minister’s Office, Khan reiterated the government’s resolve to complete the process for merger of the Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.
The prime minister said that the government is also striving hard to place an effective local governance system in the tribal districts.
He assured the delegation that the Centre would help the provincial government in provision of basic facilities like health, education and housing.
“The tribal areas will be provided all-out facilities like other parts of the country,” he added.
During the meeting, matters relating to the overall situation in tribal areas, the Fata merger, and administrative affairs came under discussion.
The prime minister said the tribal people had rights to the region’s resources, and that these should be spent on the construction and development of the area.
The government has already announced a Rs100bn uplift package for tribal districts.
The landmark merger of Fata and the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas with KP took place through a constitutional amendment in the last days of the five-year term of the previous Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) government that ended on May 31.
The process of transition is still in progress, which is now being monitored by the PTI government.
Following the landmark merger, the provincial government established the offices of deputy commissioner and assistant commissioners by introducing the status of sub-division and districts in the tribal areas which were previously governed under one-and-a-half century-old colonial laws known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations.
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