ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday directed that a new legislation should be finalised within a week’s time to effectively deal with the offenses related to money laundering and to further strengthen existing laws to effectively check Hawala, Hundi and other illegal/corrupt practices that were negatively impacting the country’s economy.

He also approved a package to further incentivize remittances through legal channels. The decisions were taken during a high-level meeting here at the PM Office with Prime Minister Imran Khan in chair.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Asad Omar, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan, Special Assistant to PM Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Special Assistant to PM Iftikhar Durrani, federal secretaries, DG FIA, Chairman NADRA, Deputy Governor State Bank and other senior officials.

It was decided during the meeting that State Bank, being the regulatory authority in the banking sector, would take action against elements who were involved in facilitating opening and operation of fake bank accounts in the country.

The PM also tasked Secretary Finance to submit recommendations for regulating trade under Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement with an aim to effectively check misuse of the agreement.

It was also decided during the meeting that necessary amendments would be introduced in the existing laws including Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010 to further strengthen these laws for effectively dealing with the cases of money laundering and other illegal practices.

Secretary Interior informed the meeting that task forces, at national as well as provincial levels, had been constituted with an aim to identify legislative and administrative constraints in effective implementation of AML activities and to suggest corrective measures towards its eradication.

The provincial task forces have been mandated to take timely action against individuals/institutions identified as involved in activities falling within domains of Hawala/Hundi.

The National Task Force will submit monthly report to the PM Office on performance including coordinated actions undertaken and recoveries effected.

Secretary Interior also identified various other actions including making the Islamabad International Airport as a model airport with regards to inter-agency coordination and installation of truck scanners at Torkham that were aimed at checking money laundering, smuggling and other illegal practices.

The PM also approved a package for enhancement of incentives for remittances through legal channels. It was decided to increase airtime to Rs2 against each US dollar received through M Wallet. It was also decided that banks/exchange companies would be reimbursed Rs1 per US dollar as marketing expenses and promotional activities on remittances exceeding 15 percent in FY19 compared to FY18.

The PM also approved a proposal for launch of awareness campaign by SBP for remittance customers. The budgetary impact of the package has been estimated to around Rs2.3 billion.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister while expressing serious concern over the quantum of power theft, Friday said it was unacceptable that those who were regularly pay their dues have to face inconvenience of loadshedding because of the theft by some elements.

Imran expressed these views while chairing a meeting on power sector. The meeting discussed issues related to power sector especially the progress made so far towards country-wide crackdown on power theft and the way forward to curtain losses in the power sector.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Power Omar Ayub, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Secretary Power Irfan Ali, Home Secretary KP Ikram Ullah, Head of Energy Task Force Nadeem Babar and other senior officials.

Secretary Power Division informed the PM Power Division in coordination with the provincial task forces is actively carrying forward the campaign against power theft/pilferage in all provinces. He informed the PM that besides taking strict action against elements involved in power pilferage, action was also being taken against those employees who had facilitated power theft. Secretary informed that recently a gang has been busted in LESCO and Faisalabad region which was involved in facilitating power pilferage by tampering electricity meters through a software.

The meeting also discussed in detail the issue of power theft and low recoveries in KP.

The PM was informed that out of total KP losses, major losses were being incurred in PESCO region. While expressing serious concern over the quantum of power theft, he stated it was unacceptable that those who regularly pay their dues have to face inconvenience of loadshedding because of the theft by some elements. He directed KP CM and Power Minister to hold a press conference to highlight the issue before the public and garner their support towards government’s crackdown against power theft.

It was decided during the meeting to expedite installation of electricity meters in the areas where electricity was being used through direct connections (kunda-system).

Minister for Power also briefed the PM about the progress being made in other parts of the country. He informed PM that due to hectic efforts of the Power division, power losses and recovery situation has started witnessing improvement.