Premier unveils two new schemes for the overseas Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has underlined the need for further enhancing the foreign remittances by tapping the immense potential of overseas Pakistanis.
The prime minister said this on Thursday while addressing a ceremony in connection with Roshan Digital Account crossing one billion dollars mark in deposits and launch of Roshan Apni Car and Roshan Samaji Khidmat products.
The prime minister pointed out that the country received record remittances over the last one year. He, however, said this is only the tip of the iceberg. He said, “Until and unless we enhance our exports, we will have to think out of box and bring innovative ideas to woo the overseas Pakistanis to send their remittances to Pakistan. This will help us handle the issue of the current account deficit.”
The prime minister said that the strategy should be to not let the current account fall in deficit as it pressurises rupee and affects the growth rate, foreign investments, and economic growth. He observed that incentivising the construction sector and low-cost housing was picking up pace.
“Banks will have to impart training to lend out loans to the people,” he added.
The prime minister termed the deposits of one billion dollars in Roshan Digital Account in a matter of seven months as a landmark achievement, expressing the confidence that other two products Roshan Apni Car and Roshan Samaaji Khidmat will also meet the success.
Imran Khan said that nine million Pakistanis are abroad and they are the biggest asset which have kept the national economy afloat. He said, “Our labourers are very diligent who work day and night to financially support their families back home.” He asked the embassies to provide better services to the labour class.
The prime minister announced that a high-powered investigation has been ordered into the misconduct of the embassy staff in Saudi Arabia with the Pakistani labourers and workers. He said those found involved in extorting and mistreating Pakistani labourers will be given exemplary punishments.
In his remarks, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir said the success of Roshan Digital Account is the success of Pakistan and the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Referring to the new products being launched under the Roshan Digital Account, he said under Roshan Apni Car, overseas Pakistanis will be able to purchase cars for their family members or friends in Pakistan at attractive mark-up rates.
He said Roshan Samaji Khidmat will provide a platform to the overseas Pakistanis to conveniently give their donations and Zakat. He said more such products will also be launched in future to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis.
The governor State Bank of Pakistan said, “Our aim is to transform the financial system that facilitates the common man including those associated with the SMEs and the agriculture sector.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday finally broke his silence regarding the allegations levelled against him by former director general of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Bashir Memon and termed all the claims as “baseless.”
“I had only directed Memon to investigate the iqama (work permit) case of PML-N’s Khawaja Asif,” the premier said. The prime minister made the statements while speaking during a meeting with senior journalists and anchorpersons in Islamabad.
“The decision to investigate the case of Khawaja Asif was also taken during a meeting of the federal cabinet,” the PM said, adding that he had directed Memon to investigate whether the country’s former foreign minister was holding a foreign resident permit and withdrawing a salary from foreign sources.
“All the claims made by Bashir Memon are baseless,” the premier said. “I have never directed him to initiate investigations or file any cases against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.”
The premier added, “Memon was not even authorised to file references [against a Supreme Court judge], so why would I ask him to do so in the first place?”
Responding to a question, the premier said that he had not even directed Memon to file any cases against opposition leaders Maryam Nawaz or anyone else from the PML-N or the PPP.
“I have never asked [the FIA] to file a terrorism case against Maryam Nawaz regarding the photograph of the first lady,” the premier maintained.
“Bashir Memon used to only brief me about the investigation the FIA’s joint investigation team was carrying out against the Omni Group,” PM Khan said.
A few days ago, Memon said he was asked by the prime minister himself to file cases against Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa and other opposition leaders during his tenure as the FIA’s director-general.
Memon had said that Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem Naseem and the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar had also wanted him to proceed against Justice Isa on money laundering charges.
Memon had maintained that he had refused to do so as “the FIA had no grounds to do so, especially since the matter pertained to a Supreme Court judge.”
Memon had said he once had a meeting with the prime minister during which the premier lauded his services by saying that he is a “very good officer” and told him to pursue cases against the corrupt people.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to pay a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia by the second week of May, it emerged on Thursday.
The premier, during the visit, will meet Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, according to diplomatic sources. They further said that the arrangements of the visit to the kingdom are being finalised.
The visit highlights a thaw in ties between the two countries marred by differences over certain regional issues.
In March, Muhammad bin Salman invited PM to visit Saudi Arabia in a development that suggested easing of tensions between the two countries.
Last year, on the direction of PM Imran, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had undertaken a visit to Tehran and Riyadh.
On Wednesday last, PM Imran welcomed Saudi Arabia’s “initiative for peace with Iran” after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sought “good” relations with Tehran. “We welcome the KSA initiative for peace with Iran. Iran is our neighbour and KSA our closest friend. This peace initiative will strengthen the Muslim Ummah.”
Ties between Riyadh and Islamabad apparently soured because of differences on certain regional issues. The tensions had compelled Pakistan to return $3 billion to Saudi Arabia despite facing tough economic situation.
The $3 billion loan was part of the $6 billion financial bailout package Saudi Arabia had extended to Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran took charge. But now, the two sides appear to have overcome their differences leading to visit by Imran to the kingdom at the request of Saudi crown prince.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the authorities concerned to ensure that approvals for construction related projects are completed within the stipulated time.
The prime minister issued these directions while chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee for Housing, Construction and Development on Thursday.
Stressing on the significance of forests protection and digitisation in this regard, he said that protecting forests is immensely important to tackle climate change effects. The prime minister said that digitisation of forests record will also help curb illegal encroachments and land grabbing.
The meeting was informed that on the directions of the prime minister, National Standard Specifications have been for the low-cost housing keeping in view the building code of Pakistan Engineering Council. These specifications have been developed in a record period of four months with the consultation of the provinces.
Chief Secretary Punjab briefed the meeting that 25,607 applications for construction over 120 million square feet have so far been received. Of these, 17,572 applications have been approved.
Separately, speaking at a briefing on progress in Ravi City and Central Business District projects on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Ravi City is a flagship project that will go a long way in economic development of the country.
The prime minister directed to ensure protection of green areas in the Ravi City project at all costs. He said the steps taken by the present government for environmental protection are unprecedented.
Imran Khan also directed to bring into his notice the issues in the Ravi City and Central Business District projects so that they could be addressed on priority basis.
The meeting was briefed about the development of different zones of Ravi City and keen interest of foreign investment companies in the project, especially the launch of bidding by the five renowned investment groups for a one zone of Ravi City and interest by the international consortium for land development in new zones in future.
Various recommendations were also presented in the meeting on consultation with investors regarding planning of the launch of the first phase of the Central Business District project.
The chairman Naya Pakistan Housing authority also briefed the prime minister about the positive progress in Ravi City.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has been voted “Personality of the Week” by the Al-Jazeera weekly programme “Sibaq-ul-Akhbar” for his views and efforts to address the issue of Islamophobia.
“Sibaq-ul-Akhbar” is an interactive and live one-hour weekly programme in Arabic on Aljazeera TV. This programme is very famous in Arab countries. In this programme, the channel selects three to four top news of the week and subsequently viewers are asked to vote as to which is the top news story and personality associated with the story. Imran Khan secured 56 percent votes from the viewers.
Al-Jazeera’s viewers on the Sibaq-ul-Akhbar programme held on April 24 voted for Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan as Personality of the Week for his candid views on the issue of Islamophobia.
In the initial part of the programme, the anchor highlighted PM Imran Khan’s achievements and later he took Shaukat Paracha, an anchor of a private TV channel from Pakistan, for comments.
In October 2019, Jordan’s Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre named PM Imran as its “Man of the Year” in its list of the most persuasive Muslims in the world. The centre is an autonomous research entity with the Royal Aal al Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan.
“If The Muslim 500 was in print back in 1992 and I was the Chief Editor then, I would have nominated Imran Khan as our Muslim Man of the Year because of his brilliant performance in cricket, which culminated in Pakistan winning the 1992 Cricket World Cup – a sport I have always admired for its combination of elegance and intense competitive play,” said Professor S Abdallah Schleifer, a Professor Emeritus of Journalism in the American University in Cairo, who chose Imran Khan winner of the title.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate three major Ehsaas programmes in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) during his visit to the area on Friday (today).
The prime minister will announce the province-wide rollout of Ehsaas Nashonuma, Ehsaas Secondary Education Stipends and Ehsaas One Woman One Account initiatives across GB. So far, 8 Ehsaas Nashonuma centres have been opened in three districts of GB including Diamer, Astore and Kharmang.
In collaboration with the provincial government of GB, a detailed roadmap has been developed to open Ehsaas Nashonuma Centres in every district of GB.
Under the Prime Minister’s “One Woman One Bank Account Initiative”, Ehsaas Bachat Account (saving account) for Ehsaas Kafalaat beneficiaries has been launched in thirteen districts of the country. The initiative will formally be launched in Hunza Nagar district and will be scaled up later nationwide.
The prime minister will also announce the first of its kind Ehsaas’ secondary education conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme for secondary school going children of deserving households. Ehsaas has already approved and budgeted for the expansion of the conditional cash transfer from the primary level to the secondary education level. This programme will commence from the next financial year and will be deployed in all districts of GB.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has already been agreed with the provincial government of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Aiming to serve free shelter and meals to daily wage earners, one new Panagah has recently been opened in Skardu, the first in GB and the second will be opened soon in Gilgit. – TLTP

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