Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday announced that the government would soon launch a full-fledged crackdown against money laundering by plugging the loopholes in the system left by the previous governments.
“Today, money laundering is the biggest curse in the country. Because you cannot keep it [ill-gotten money] in Pakistan, so you launder it abroad to conceal it. You inflict a double loss to the country — first by looting and then by sending it through Havala or Hundi in dollars,” the prime minister said while addressing the National Assembly after the House concluded the passage of the annual budget 2019-20.
He said money laundering was the real reason behind the dollar’s appreciation against Pakistan’s rupee. Amazingly, Imran said, previous regimes who left behind a record deficit of $19.5 billion (Dh71 billion) were blaming the incumbent government for the rupee’s devaluation. Such people should have also told the people the real reason behind the slide, he added.
Today, money laundering is the biggest curse in the country. Because you cannot keep it [ill-gotten money] in Pakistan, so you launder it abroad to conceal it. You inflict a double loss to the country — first by looting and then by sending it through Havala or Hundi in dollars.
The PM said, according to the data collected by the government, even resident Pakistanis had stashed around $10 billion abroad.
Referring to the money laundering allegations involving former president Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, Imran asked how, when the ruling class was involved in money laundering, ordinary people could be stopped from doing so.
Criticising Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif’s speech in parliament, the prime minister asked how a person facing serious charges of money laundering could address the parliament and chair the Public Accounts Committee mandated to ensure the government’s accountability.
The prime minister congratulated his economic team for getting the annual budget to sail through the National Assembly and the parliamentary party for debating the Finance Bill through quality speeches, particularly by Minister for Communications Murad Saeed, and Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Hammad Azhar.
Referring to use of the word ‘selected’ by the opposition in describing him, the prime minister referred to Murad Saeed’s speech citing the former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s book in which she had revealed the American role to get the NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) signed between Musharraf and Zardari to protect the United States’ interests.
He questioned as how they (Zardari) and those, who had been nurtured “in the military dictator’s nursery” (PML-N), could use such words.
He said Hammad Azhar had emerged as a young leader and had earned the federal ministry due to his composure and hard work. He also thanked National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar, PTI’s Chief Whip Amir Dogar and the allied parties for their support to get the budget passed putting the opposition’s threats and rumours at rest.
He said the biggest challenge was to balance the current account deficit, though the government had already managed to bring it down by 30 per cent.
The prime minister said under the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, the government would be starting different new schemes by next week to support another 40 industries allied with the construction industry.
He said the government had enhanced the allocation for its anti-poverty initiative “Ehsas” to Rs190 billion, besides allocating another Rs100 billion for youth loans.
He said under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the government would bring Chinese agriculture technology to Pakistan to enhance the yield and to boost the dairy sector.
Reiterating his government’s resolve to support the industrialisation, Imran Khan said after 1960s, it would prove itself as the most-business friendly government.
He said discouraging the trend of lopsided development, the government had made special budgetary allocations to uplift the neglected areas like Balochistan and erstwhile FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). He also thanked the Pakistan Army for deciding to freeze their budget to help uplift Balochistan and tribal areas.
Mentioning the reduction of PM House’s expenditures by 30 per cent and ministers’ salaries by 10 per cent, he said the government would make cost cutting in other departments too.
The prime minister said though, after the new National Finance Commission Award, the development of Karachi was the provincial responsibility, the federal government had allocated Rs45 billion for the city’s uplift.
He, however, said the development of the cities could not be achieved until an effective local government system was enforced as had been introduced by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to allow the cities collect their own taxes.