The incentives will be rolled out in the next two months.
The Pakistan government is all set to roll out sops like cheaper airfares and additional luggage on flights, to encourage its citizens to remit money through digital channels.
Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, Special Assistant to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, said that a “whole new set of incentives” will be rolled out in the next two months.
“The government has told private banks to work towards digitalisation. We have given them 65 recommendations which will make remitting funds easier for overseas Pakistanis. In the next two months, you will see incentives like a points system which can be redeemed for cheaper airfares, more luggage and for accommodation in hotels, etc.”
The government will also launch a pension scheme for overseas Pakistanis. “We are going to bring informal workers like labourers, drivers, cooks and other domestic workers in the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI). They will have the opportunity to contribute towards their pension. So we are bringing in an informal economy that has about 45 million Pakistanis. With Pakistan being a huge economy, we have to think out of the box and make the EOBI the largest pension fund in the country.
This came as Bukhari visited the Khaleej Times headquarters on Saturday.
He revealed that the government has increased pension under the EOBI from Rs5,250 to Rs8,500 in the past 18 months. “The plan is that before we end our term, the pension should match with the minimum wage of Rs15,000.”
Covid-19 impact on Pakistanis
During his two-day visit to the UAE, Bukhari met UAE Minister for Human Resources and Emiratisation Nasser bin Thani Juma Al Hamli to discuss challenges faced by Pakistanis in the UAE and opportunities for them in the post-Covid period.
On Saturday, the Galadari Brothers committed Rs10 million for the repatriation of stranded Pakistanis in the UAE.
Bukhari said there was a 29 per cent increase in the number of skilled workers coming from Pakistan to the UAE, “which resulted in increase in remittances even during the pandemic”.
He said the government would be testing a new voting system for overseas Pakistanis in the upcoming Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir elections.
Tourism next big thing in Pakistan
Bukhari said tourism is the “next big thing in Pakistan”. “Tourism is a dark horse … We don’t realise just how much employment it is going to generate in the country,” he said.
During a meeting with Bukhari on Saturday at the Khaleej Times headquarters, Suhail Galadari, Co-Chairman of Galadari Brothers, pledged to invest in the hospitality and tourism sector of Pakistan in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tourism vision, which is being effectively implemented by Bukhari.
Bukhari said the Pakistan government was all set to launch a tourism campaign called ‘Brand Pakistan’ in April, but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the launch. “We made a 10-year tourism policy along with a 5-year action plan. The ‘Brand Pakistan’ website portal was all set, which would help tourists book holidays, give them weather updates and information about new destinations, traffic control, standardisation of guest houses and resorts. The Pakistan Prime Minister was all set to launch the campaign on April 18 and then Covid-19 hit,” Bukhari said.
He said the government is taking inputs from overseas Pakistanis in the decision making. “We restructured the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) and are hiring about 70 people who are experts in this field. The government has no plan to become an operator, but will introduce and regulate policies. Under the PTDC, there are about 32 guest houses which we are putting on a 33-year lease to national and international firms. They will renovate and develop them,” he added.
“In the next two years, Pakistan will have 32 ideally located resorts opening in 3- to 4-star standards. That itself will create thousands of jobs in the country.”
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