The Governor of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Dr. Reza Baqir yesterday addressed the Pakistani overseas community in Qatar virtually, and urged the Non-Resident Pakistanis (NRPs), including businessmen, investors and working professionals in Doha, to avail the huge benefits of the Roshan Digial Account (RDA), a major new initiative by the country’s central bank, which is being dubbed to be a “game changer”.
The government of Pakistan, as part of its efforts to enhance the country’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves and boost exports in the cash-strapped economy, has introduced several new schemes and policy measures, which include attracting foreign direct investment and increase remittances from the overseas Pakistanis.
“For the first time in our history we have allowed overseas Pakistanis to open accounts remotely without having to visit any offices. I encourage all Non-Resident Pakistanis to visit our website and look for Roshan Digital Account. There are links of different commercial banks and open your account,” said Dr. Reza, Governor of the central bank.
Dr. Reza added: “We have very encouraging response, and some 700 to 1,000 of accounts are being opened per day. I urge you to have patience as it may take some time owing to overwhelming response. Once the account is opened, you will have attractive investment opportunities, including the real estate and the stock market.”
He said that Roshan Digital Account initative is being implemented in collaboration with commercial banks operating in Pakistan. The accounts can be opened from online from anywhere outside Pakistan without visiting any branch permits account holders to send money in leading foreign currencies, including US dollar and euro.
These accounts aim to provide all banking facilities for millions of NRPs seeking to undertake banking, payment and investment activities in Pakistan. Some of the benefits of Roshan Digital Account include providing digital access to all conventional account services including funds transfer, bills and fee payments, and e-commerce, enabling investment in Naya Pakistan Certificates (NPCs) being issued very soon by the
Government of Pakistan at very attractive risk-free rates, enabling investment in Pakistan’s stock market, and opening up investment opportunities in the Pakistani property market very soon, including both commercial and residential real estate.
Dr. Reza, who has 18 years of experience with the IMF and two years with the World Bank, provided a comprehensive presentation highlighting of the country’s macro-economic fundamentals and outlook for the medium and long-term.
He also discussed the monetary and fiscal policies and government’s initiatives such as economic stimulus programme to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially on the micro, small and mid-sized enterprises.
Reza, who assumed his responsibilities as Governor on early May last year, said that SBP schemes, which include interest rate benefits, loan deferment, load rescheduling, and COVID-19 financial aid of Rs1.72 trillion (about $11bn), which over 4 percent of Pakistan’s GDP, are playing important role in improving cash flows of businesses and households, preventing unemployment and facilitating investment in private sector, including health facilities. Pakistan’s economy is forecast to grow at 5 percent over the medium term, or around 3 percent on per capita term.
He also noted that Pakistan, pre-COVID-19, had successfully started an economic reform programme to address external and fiscal imbalances, and during the pandemic government and SBP gave timely and calibrated economic response without compromising buffers.
“Fiscal reforms narrowed the fiscal deficit to 3.8 percent of GDP in July-March FY20 and brought the primary balance to surplus for the first time since 2016… and the stock of SBP’s foreign exchange reserves increased to $12.1bn as on October 23, 2020, up 66 percent from $7.3bn on June 30, 2019,” noted the Governor. The first day of the two-day webinar, which was hosted by the Doha-based Pakistan Business and Professional Council (PBPC) Director Mohsin Mujtaba, was also participated by the Deputy Governor of SBP, Sima Kamil; Pakistan’s Ambassador to Doha, Syed Ahsan Reza Shah; Chairman of Arif Habib Group, Arif Habib; and Managing Director of PSX Farrukh Khan among others.
Arif Habib also highlighted investment opportunities in the promising sectors of the Pakistani economy, including real estate, construction, tourism and other sectors.
Ambassador Shah, in his introductory speech, noted said that despite the pandemic, remittances to Pakistan have increased, which is contrary to the popular perception that it might decline during the health crisis. In addition, Qatar-Pakistan bilateral economic relationship is growing steadily.
“Trade and investment between Qatar and Pakistan have been growing over the last few years. Qatari investors and businesses are very keen to invest in Pakistan, especially in our tourism and hospitality sector, but we need to be more proactive,” he said.