New initiative will facilitate overseas Pakistanis to undertake fund transfers, bill payments and investment activities in the country
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday launched Roshan Digital Account for overseas Pakistanis, allowing the country’s diaspora to remotely open an account through an entirely online process without any need to visit a bank branch, embassy or consulate.
Speaking at an event to mark the launch of the Roshan Digital Account, Khan said when India and China started their growth trajectory, the initial investments mainly came through their diaspora.
“But Pakistan has not been able to tap this resource. And the launch of this digital banking account is the first step towards that direction of engaging the diaspora,” he said.
Opening the Roshan Digital Account requires a basic set of information and documents, and will only take 48 hours once all documents are complete. The State Bank of Pakistan launched this initiative in cooperation with eight local banks to provide modern banking facilities.
A customer can choose either a foreign currency or rupee dominated account, or both. Funds in these accounts will be fully repatriable, without the need for any regulatory approval.
Importantly, the account will facilitate bank transfer, payment of bills, fees at a click of a button. It will also provide opportunity to Pakistani diaspora to invest in the country’s stock market and in the residential and commercial real estate sector.
“Remittances have increased but now we want overseas Pakistanis to invest in the country. We couldn’t provide them viable avenues for investment. Since, they mostly invest in real estate sector, upcoming mega government projects in Punjab and Sindh are the best opportunities for them to invest.”
He noted that the country’s exports grew despite Covid-19, higher than the export rate of India and Bangladesh.
“But the level of exports that the government wants to achieve will take time. Until we increase exports where they surpass imports, we have to incentivise overseas Pakistanis so that they invest in the country.”
The prime minister said non-resident Pakistanis are a big resource pool and the government will provide right conditions to them to flourish in the country.
Special assistant to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari has been working on the project for two years and is now pushing towards a digital challenger bank.
“Roshan Digital Account will revolutionise banking for the diaspora. This is a step in the right direction and we will go for a full-fledged overseas digital challenger bank,” he said.
Islamabad will also soon launch Naya Pakistan Certificate for NRPs.
Highlighting the challenges, Khan pointed out that the country needs to accelerate economic activity which, in turn, will generate wealth. And this will enable the government to repay its debt.
Due to historic import-exports gap, he said the country faces shortage of the dollar which directly impacts rupee.
“Rupee falls when there is a shortage of dollar and that leads to rise in the cost of living and also puts brakes to foreign investment in to the country due to volatility. Importantly, this also weakens the wealth generation in the country,” he said.
Imran Khan also took on those politicians who criticise the government for promoting NRPs who hold dual nationality in the government.
“People look at overseas Pakistanis holding high positions in the government suspiciously. Pakistanis living abroad are very patriotic, more than many of us living inside the country. People look at dual nationals suspiciously as if they are traitors. We need to realise that why those over nine million Pakistanis have gone abroad. It is because we couldn’t provide them with good jobs,” he said.
He added that whenever the country provides them right conditions, this huge talent and resource pool can come back.
Citing an example, he said many overseas Pakistanis have joined Shaukat Khanum Hospital, a specialised cancer hospital set up by Khan.
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