PM urges ‘haven’ nations to return $7tr stolen assets

ISLAMABAD: Calling for reforms in international financial institutions dealing with illicit transactions, Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the “haven” countries to immediately and unconditionally return all foreign assets that are shown to be stolen or whose “legitimacy” cannot be explained.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing the virtual launch event of the Final Report of the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for achieving the 2030 Development Agenda on Thursday.
Imran Khan said the UN should initiate various steps, including negotiations on the new international tax cooperation and anti- money laundering legal instruments. He called for the establishment of a UN Coordination, Adjudication and Mediation mechanism on illicit financial flows. He said that Pakistan will work actively with all like-minded countries to realise these vital objectives.
The Prime Minister endorsed the Panel’s proposals, which include application of international “values” of honesty and integrity to all financial transactions, strengthening policy frameworks and reforming relevant institutions dealing with these illicit financial flows.
He said national and cross-border financial transactions should be regulated under a “values-based” system, encompassing accountability, transparency, legitimacy, fairness, inclusion and equity.
He said global financial governance must improve and policies on illicit flows must be implemented in a coordinated and coherent way by national and international institutions and bodies. He said international bodies dealing with tax matters, corruption and illicit financing should not be used as instruments of pressure and coercion against developing countries.
Imran Khan said that the magnitude of the illicit financial flows is staggering and can have a transformational impact on the development prospects of the developing countries if returned.
He said that recovery of stolen assets will enable the developing countries to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, build back better after the Covid-19 crisis, address climate change and strengthen human rights.
The Prime Minister said $7 trillion in stolen assets are parked in the financial “haven” countries. He said the flight of these vast resources from the developing countries is a principal cause of their under-development, poverty, inequality and politics.
The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction over incorporating his proposals in the Final Report of the Panel. These suggestions include immediate return of stolen assets, penalties on the financial institutions, lawyers and accountants, and other “enablers” of corruption, crime and tax evasion, disclosure of the “beneficial ownership” of companies, review and revision of unequal investment treaties and a coherent mechanism for monitoring illicit financial flows set up under the United Nations (UN).
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed to formulate a comprehensive plan to meet the future needs and any emergency situation with regard to prices and availability of essential items in sufficient quantity.
Chairing a review meeting on Thursday regarding prices and availability of essential items, the Prime Minister said that strict legal measures should be taken against hoarders and profiteers.
The Prime Minister asserted that efforts should be made to avoid any additional burden on the poor people. He also emphasised on strengthening inter-provincial coordination to end disparity in prices of essential items.
Imran Khan instructed to utilise information technology in shifting agricultural produce from field to market to make the procedure more transparent so that both farmers and consumers can get best prices. He advised to increase the number of godowns for the storage of edible items on modern lines.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Sri Lanka is a special friend and a strong partner of Pakistan.
In a tweet, the Prime Minister thanked the leadership and the people of Sri Lanka for his warm reception and gracious hospitality during his recent visit. The Prime Minister said he agrees with the impression that Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations are growing in a dignified manner for further expansion and promotion.
In a Joint CommuniquĂ©, issued in Colombo, on the conclusion of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Sri Lanka, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to regional peace, security, and stability. Both countries reiterated their commitment to the principles and objectives of the SAARC Charter and stressed the need for SAARC Member countries to build on convergence, for the greater good of the people in the region.
The Prime Minister underscored the need for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes through constructive dialogue in accordance with international legitimacy. In the context of regional connectivity, Imran Khan highlighted the opportunities presented by China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for regional economic growth and prosperity and invited Sri Lanka to join it.
The Pakistan side announced 100 scholarships in the field of medicine (MBBS and BDS) for the Sri Lankan students. They also agreed to enhance cooperation in tourism and share expertise in the hospitality industry.
They expressed satisfaction over the existing bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and noted that the elevation of staff-level talks to defence dialogue has further provided an opportunity to expand security sector ties. During the visit, five memoranda of understanding were signed between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Sri Lanka was aimed at further fortifying the long-standing bilateral relations between the two countries and transforming them into economic partnership.
In a statement on Thursday, he said, “We are committed to enhancing bilateral trade volume with Sri Lanka to one billion dollars.”
The minister said two sides discussed to further activate FTA between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Foreign Minister said, “We have decided to grant more scholarships to Sri Lankan students to get admissions in the educational institutions of Pakistan.” He said Sri Lanka also acknowledges Pakistan’s assistance to deal with the scourge of terrorism.

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