ISLAMABAD - Pakistan hopes to come out from grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after taking measures to strengthen Anti-Money Laundering Law and Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA).

Pakistan is all set to submit compliance report on progress of action plan to joint group of FATF within envisaged deadline of August 13. Officials in Ministry of Finance believed that the government had taken steps to come out from the grey list of FATF. The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue had recently approved two laws in this regard.

The amendments in foreign exchange regulation laws (FERA) to restrict domestic movement of currency beyond a certain limit would curb the practice of Hawala/Hundi and other forms of illegal foreign exchange transactions act. Amendments to the AML law approved by parliamentary committee included increasing punishment for money laundering up to 10 years and fine of five million rupees and prompting filing of suspicious transaction reports. Pakistan has improved mechanism of suspicious transactions reporting (STR) and is continuously engaged on diplomatic front to counter Indian propaganda. Law enforcement agencies had also taken action against proscribed organisations such as Haqqani Network, Jamaat-ud-Dawa and others.

Efforts for implementation of FATF Action Plan also discussed

Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has called for continued support of the international community for strengthening of the AML/CFT Framework over a longer period of time.

He made these remarks in a meeting with US delegation led by Ambassador Alice G. Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, along with the US Treasury officials comprising Scott Rembrandt, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Grant Vickers, David Galbraith and others.

The US team is visiting Pakistan to provide technical support for complying with the FATF condition. Before submission of its compliance report to FATF’s Joint Group (JG), a US expert team had reached Islamabad on four-day visit for providing technical assistance as Prime Minister Imran Khan made special request to Washington high-ups in this regard.

The adviser briefed the visiting delegation on measures pertaining to economic reforms being undertaken by the government of Pakistan to ensure economic discipline, efforts being made towards implementation of FATF Action Plan and the key challenges being faced. He emphasized the importance of bilateral engagement with the US and the need to encourage entrepreneurs from private sector of both the countries which will lead to enhanced trade.

Regarding implementation of FATF Action Plan, the adviser said that the government was putting in all-out efforts to complete the action plan, involving all relevant authorities at the federal and provincial levels, supported by capacity building through international partners. The adviser expressed government of Pakistan’s commitment to enhance effectiveness of its AML/CFT Framework being undertaken, with the objective to ensure that all actions that are being taken to curb terror financing are irreversible and sustainable.

The adviser informed that over the past three months, the government had taken significant steps to bring financial discipline that include reduction in current account deficit, focus on increasing revenue generation, measures to reduce fiscal expenditures, reduce fiscal borrowings, efforts to enhance foreign exchange reserves through bilateral and multilateral support, arrangement of petroleum credit facility with KSA and IDB and IMF programme. Further, as part of its institutional development initiative, SBP and FBR are being resourced and empowered. At the same time to support economic growth and facilitate the people below the poverty line, various programmes to support export-oriented industries and health insurance schemes had been introduced for the poor.

Ms Alice G Wells appreciated briefings and said the US would continue to remain engaged with Pakistan in its economic reforms efforts and help build an environment that facilitates business development between the two countries.