Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed his economic team to “explore ways to provide maximum incentives to overseas Pakistanis” in a bid to attract investment and reduce pressure on the current account deficit.
“We need to find ways how to facilitate [expats] so that they can invest their money and start a business in Pakistan,” the premier said while addressing a launching ceremony of ‘Sohni Dharti Remittance Programme’ in Islamabad on Thursday.
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has launched the initiative. Under the programme, overseas Pakistanis will get reward points against the remittances they send through legal channels.
These reward points will enable them to avail free services at government departments.
PM Imran said the only viable option in the short run to reduce the trade deficit is to increase the volume of remittances and incentivise 9 million overseas Pakistanis so that they send remittances through the legal channel and also invest in the real estate sector through Roshan
“We need to make policies to remove barriers to investment and.. make them [expats] VIPs in Pakistan so that they get return for benefiting the country,” he added.
Premier Imran said Pakistan’s economy biggest challenge is sluggish export growth because “no government after 1960s paid attention to increasing exports”.
He added that Pakistan availed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package time and again because economic growth widens the current account deficit and the country needed dollars to bridge the gap.
The remittances sent home by overseas Pakistanis surged 10.2% in October 2021 to $2.5 billion on a year-on-year (YOY) basis owing to measures taken by the government and the SBO to encourage the use of formal channels to send money home.
According to the data released by the SBP, the inflow of remittances had stood at $2.3 billion in the same month last year.
“In addition to staying above $2 billion since June 2020, this is the eighth consecutive month when remittances have been close to or above $2.5 billion,” the SBP said in a statement.