PM launches ‘Raast’ to take the economy from cash to digital

ISLAMABAD: In an effort to take the country from cash to digital economy, Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched Pakistan’s first instant digital payment system ‘Raast’.
Addressing the launching ceremony on Monday, the Prime Minister said that ‘Raast’ initiative will help boost formal economy, financial inclusion of women, and eradicate poverty from the country.
“We are trying to alleviate poverty through Ehsaas Programme and the launch of ‘Raast’ programme will help end poverty in the country,” added Imran Khan. He said the programme would help give a boost to the Ehsaas programme, particularly its mobile wallet, and extend its reach to the women in the rural areas.
The Prime Minister said that the cash economy is the biggest hurdle in tapping the true potential of the 220 million population of Pakistan. He said that the cash economy badly affects tax collection, which is evident from the fact that only two million out of 220 million people are tax filers, while 30,000 of taxpayers make 70 percent of the total tax collection in the country.
“With an increase in revenue collection, the government would create extra space for the government in spending on human development – education, health, clean drinking water,” said the PM.
He said, “Digital Pakistan is a step forward from a cash economy towards the point where we can take maximum benefit of our 220 million population.”
The Prime Minister also congratulated State Bank of Pakistan for working on the initiative of ‘Raast’ and bank efforts for engaging overseas Pakistanis in convincing them to send remittances through formal channels.
He said foreign remittances have significantly improved as a result of these efforts. He said, “Our current account deficit has become surplus, which has reduced pressure on rupee.” Any pressure on rupee raises the cost of commodities, including edible oil, ghee, pulses, etc, imported for the common man, he added.
The Prime Minister hoped a move towards Digital Pakistan would help put Pakistan back on track’
Raast is part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Digital Pakistan vision aimed to include poor segments of the society in the formal economy. Raast would be used not only to settle small-value retail payments in real-time but will also provide cheap and universal access to all players in the financial industry including banks and fintechs.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the government is taking priority measures to promote industries meant for value-added exports.
Talking to a delegation of Pakistan Tanners Association on Monday, the Prime Minister assured that the government is ready to extend all possible cooperation to run the leather industry on its full capacity.
He said that the industrial wheel is moving swiftly due to the government’s positive economic and business friendly policies and this is reflected through positive economic indicators.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister was apprised of growing demand of Pakistani leather globally. It was said that Pakistani leather is known for its high quality and low cost. It was told that Pakistani leather has the capacity to export to earn foreign exchange worth billions of dollars by exporting it to world’s leading brands by enhancing value addition by 300 percent. High quality of sheep, goat, cow and buffalo leather is prepared in sufficient quantity in Pakistan, but this industry is facing difficulties in meeting its targets due to COVID-19 pandemic and other reasons.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday formed a five-member ministerial committee aimed at keeping a close eye on the law and order in the country in the wake of Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) protest in Islamabad.
According to details, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed is being tasked to lead the committee, which would also include Law Minister Farogh Naseem, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood and Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar.
A notification issued by the PM office said that the committee would monitor the law and order and protests being held in Islamabad.
According to sources, the committee was formed in the wake of the PDM’s protest in Islamabad and it would be entitled to hold talks with the protesters. The committee would convey minute-by-minute details to the Prime Minister regarding the law and order.
It is pertinent to mention here that Prime Minister Imran Khan on January 05 directed authorities not to create any hurdle in the protest movement of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
The PM allowed PDM’s planned protest in front of the Election Commission and also directed Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid not to create any hurdle in the PDM’s upcoming protest outside ECP headquarters in Islamabad. He said that the opposition may exercise its right to protest. – TLTP

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