ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Justice (retd) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso has approved first ever national policy for overseas Pakistanis aimed to protect, conserve and provide sustainable tools to improve their environment, encourage as well as facilitate investments through legal channels, ensure their welfare and provide protection to their assets.

The decision was taken when Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakhel, called on the Prime Minister and briefed him about the salient features of the National Policy for Overseas Pakistanis at the PM's House Wednesday.

Dilating on the salient features of the policy, the minister said that it has been made though a consultative process with all stakeholders including concerned Ministries, Board of Investment, Federal Board of Revenue, Overseas Employment Foundation beside holding seminar.

The national policy provides for social and welfare facilities to the overseas Pakistanis includes proposals for housing schemes in different cities of the country, allocation of a specific sector or percentage in government residential schemes, opening of Pakistanis schools in different cities abroad on need basis, establishment of overseas university in Islamabad, construction of hospitals, provision of mobile medical units and legal assistance for families of overseas Pakistanis.

The Policy also provides for a self-contributory pension scheme. This scheme has already been launched and would be made more attractive by enhancing facilities under it.

The policy envisages increase in the existing grant of financial assistance to the destitute families in the event of sudden death or disability. The increase in grant would also be reviewed periodically. The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis would also facilitate free transportation of dead bodies of overseas Pakistanis where PIA service is not available including transportation from airport to the deceased's native town/village.

The policy encourages increase liaison with foreign government in matters of recruitment, assistance to resolve difficulties and disputes between employers and workers, simplification of procedure to acquire Computerized National Identity Cards, Passports and foreign remittance card.

The government would appoint special focal persons in regional polices offices and in the district/city government offices to look into and resolve the issues of overseas Pakistanis. Government will also support activities undertaken by members of Pakistani Diaspora to promote Pakistani art, culture, music, literature and crafts as well as festivals in host countries.

The national policy for overseas Pakistanis also provides for establishment of a database of overseas Pakistanis for updated information, analysis, policy intervention and welfare initiatives.

Under the policy, an Overseas Pakistanis Advisory Council (OPAC) would be established with objective of welfare and participation in the national development.

The policy stipulates consideration of looking into the means to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis' right of vote.

To encourage remittances and investment the Policy provides to expand duty credit to other household items to encourage remittances through banking channels. The State Bank of Pakistan will initiate schemes with attractive profit rates for foreign currency deposits and would draw a mechanism to eliminate difference between market and official rate of exchange for increasing inflow of remittance.

The State Bank would also introduce National Award for leading remitters. Special investment fund trust and schemes would be established to offer loans to overseas Pakistanis at attractive interest rates.

The national policy also provides for establishment of Overseas Pakistani Facilitation Centre (OPFC) to cover broad areas including investment facilitation, knowledge networking and ensuring business partnership.