NA passes bills to regulate forex movement, counter money laundering

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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly, besides approving a bill to enhance punishment for money laundering on Monday, also passed a bill to amend the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947 to further regulate forex movement.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan moved the Foreign Exchange Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, to amend the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947. The bill was passed by the assembly through voice vote.

Foreign exchange policy and operations in Pakistan were governed under the provisions of Foreign Exchange Act, 1947 (FERA 1947) which empowered the State Bank of Pakistan to regulate flows of foreign exchange in and out of the country.

However, the State Bank of Pakistan did not have explicit powers under FERA 1947 to issue any regulation and instruction to the inland movement of foreign currencies.

The bill enhanced the punishments provided in Section 23 of FERA 1947 to create firmer deterrence against contravention of various provisions of the act.

This bill, therefore, seeks to amend FERA 1947 in order to enable the State Bank of Pakistan to regulate the foreign exchange regime in Pakistan more comprehensively well as to strengthen the effectiveness of the act.

The minister also moved the bill to further amend the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act 2010, as reported by the Standing Committee, which was also passed by the house.

According to a statement of objects and reasons, the bill on anti-money laundering was passed to bring further improvements in the AML Act 2010 in line with suggestions of AML/CFT stakeholders, particularly law enforcement agencies responsible for the enforcement of the act.

The amendments were aimed at streamlining the existing anti-money laundering law in line with international standards, enhancing the punishment of offence of money laundering to make it deterrent and dissuasive.

The amendments will make money laundering cognizable offence.

The amendment will also allow the Financial Monitoring Unit to seek Egmont Group Membership (Group of Financial Intelligence Unit) which is a requirement under the Financial Action Task Force recommendations.

Meanwhile, the chairmen of different standing committees presented the periodical reports of their committees on federal education and professional training, planning, development and reform, foreign affairs and states and frontier regions, parliamentary affairs, science and technology, cabinet secretariat, rules of procedure and privileges, narcotics control and law and justice for the period from January to June 2019.

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