- Hafeez Shaikh says ‘basic purpose’ of scheme is to document economy, make dead assets functional
- 4pc will be charged for whitened money if it’s brought into Pakistan; 6pc will be charged in case people want to keep money abroad
ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Tuesday finally approved the Asset Declaration Scheme after weeks of scrutiny amid internal opposition in a bid to “document the economy and to bring dead assets into the economy and make them functional”.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh briefed the media on the scheme. He was accompanied at the presser by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Syed Shabbar Zaidi, Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan.
Speaking to media persons, the PM’s adviser said people will have the opportunity to become part of the scheme until June 30. Every Pakistani citizen will be able to avail the scheme except for public office holders and their dependents.
He said the “basic purpose” of the scheme was not to generate revenue — as media reports had speculated — but to bring dead assets into the economy and make them functional.
“We have tried to make this scheme very easy to understand and implement,” the adviser said, adding that the scheme has realistic targets with low rates. He said the plan was not to “intimidate” people but to encourage businessmen to participate in the legal economy.
According to the scheme, Pakistani citizens can whiten their assets within the country and abroad after paying a certain amount. A rate of 4pc will be charged for whitened money and the cash will have to be brought into Pakistan to be kept in banks, he said, adding a rate of 6pc will be charged in case people wanted to keep their money abroad.
In the case of properties, their value will be considered 1.5 times more than the FBR-assigned value.
The amnesty scheme also has the facility for citizens to whiten their benami accounts and properties before the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 2017, is enforced.
The federal cabinet has given go-ahead to the amnesty scheme two days after striking a deal with the Fund amid much criticism by the opposition parties.
The finance adviser defended the deal with the IMF, saying the bailout package favours Pakistan. “Those who are opposing the IMF programme are the ones who had already done the same,” he responded to question.
He said actions such as reducing the gap between imports and exports, reducing losses of state-owned entities and curtailing expenditure are in favour of the country.
In an attempt to allay concerns regarding a hike in power tariffs, the adviser said electricity tariff will be increased under the IMF accord; however, it won’t affect people who consume less the 300 units.
“Pakistan goes to the IMF again and again because it fails to increase its exports, foreigners remain reluctant to invest in the country and other issues,” the adviser added.