ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has called upon the international community that stolen assets of developing countries, including the proceeds of corruption, bribery and other crimes, must be returned immediately.
The Prime Minister was virtually speaking at a launch of the interim report of the high-level panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) for Achieving the 2030 Agenda on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s 75 Session on Thursday.
The Prime Minister made an impassioned plea to the international community to take decisive action and work to prevent white collar criminals from “bleeding” developing countries dry. He said authorities in safe tax haven destinations must impose criminal and financial penalties on their financial institutions which receive and utilize such money and assets.
He said that $1tn is taken out each year “by these white collar criminals”. “$20-40 billion is in the form of bribes received by these corrupt white collar criminals,” PM Imran added.
Listing other findings, he noted that $7 trillion in stolen assets is parked in these safe tax haven destinations and $500-600bn is lost each year in tax avoidance by multinational companies.
“This bleeding of the poor and developing countries must stop,” the Premier urged. He said the enablers of corruption and bribery, such as accountants, lawyers and other intermediaries, must be closely regulated, monitored and held accountable. He said the beneficial ownership of foreign companies must be revealed immediately upon inquiry by interested and affected governments.
The Prime Minister said multinational corporations must not be allowed to resort to profit shifting to low tax jurisdictions for avoiding taxation. A global minimum corporate tax could prevent this practice. The Prime Minister said revenues from digital transactions should be taxed where the revenues are generated, not elsewhere.
Imran Khan said unequal investment treaties should be discarded or revised and a fair system for adjudication of investment disputes be set up. He said all official and non-official bodies set up to control and monitor illicit financial flows must include all the interested countries. He said the United Nations should set up a mechanism to coordinate and supervise the work of the various official and non-official bodies dealing with illicit financial flows to ensure coherence, consistency and equity in their work.
The Prime Minister said the need for developing countries to protect and preserve their precious resources has become even more vital because of the recession triggered by COVID-19 pandemic. He said unless these steps are taken, the difference between the rich and the poor will keep growing.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that his government is committed to reduce poverty from 24.3 percent to 19 percent by 2023.
He was virtually speaking at the high-level side event to the UN General Assembly session titled, “Poverty at Crossroad: Using Leadership and the Multidimensional Poverty Index to Build Back Better” on Thursday.
The Prime Minister said his aim is to create an Islamic welfare state based on the principles of Riasat-e-Madina through inclusive equitable growth and economic modernization. He said around one billion people, almost 15 percent of the world’s population, are lacking the income and capabilities to live with dignity. He said poverty imposes massive human suffering and it is the most pervasive violation of human rights.
He said poverty is also the root cause of socio-economic instability and of most political and security problems across the world. He said, that is why, poverty eradication is the first among UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The Prime Minister said his government is implementing a multi-sectoral poverty alleviation programme in the name of Ehsaas, which is the largest poverty eradication programme in Pakistan’s history.
Regarding adverse impacts of COVID-19 on the people, Imran Khan said one hundred million people are likely to be pushed back into extreme poverty. He said COVID-19 virus does not discriminate, but it is the poor and vulnerable who have suffered the most from it. He said in Pakistan, we have been able to control the virus through our strategy of “smart lockdowns”.
He said, “Despite our financial difficulties, we implemented a $1.25 billion package to deliver emergency cash to over 15 million families, covering over a 100 million people.”
Imran Khan said, “Apart from the direct attack on poverty, we need to address its systemic causes.” He said at the national and international levels, the structures of finance, production and trade must be made fair and equitable.
He said exploitation of the resources of the poor countries must stop, illicit flows of the fruits of corruption and crime must be halted and the stolen assets returned to the countries of origin. He said developing countries must be helped to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, to realize the SDGs and to ward off the impacts of climate change.
The Prime Minister emphasized on mobilizing financial resources needed by the developing countries through debt relief, creation of new Special Drawing Rights and expanded official development assistance.
He said the realization of SDGs can be accelerated, especially through major investments in sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, transport, housing, water and sanitation. He said new technologies must be mobilized and the digital divide bridged to enable developing countries to leapfrog into a modern development paradigm.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the authorities concerned to provide all possible facilities to overseas Pakistanis for better investment opportunities in the country.
Chairing a meeting on increasing remittances and foreign exchange reserves here on Thursday, the Prime Minister directed to give incentives in this regard.
The Prime Minister said that the government is paying special attention to improving balance of trade, foreign investment, remittances and increase in foreign exchange reserves to strengthen the economy.
The meeting considered various measures and suggestions for increasing remittances and foreign exchange reserves. – TLTP