PM Imran to inaugurate Roshan Digital Account for overseas Pakistanis today

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ISLAMABAD : Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate Roshan Digital Account for overseas Pakistanis – a major initiative by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) – today [Thursday].

In a press release, PM Office said that the initiative by the central bank will work with commercial banks operating in Pakistan.

“For the first time in the country’s history, Non-Returning Pakistanis (NRP) will be able to remotely open an account through an entirely digital and online process without any need to visit a bank branch, embassy, or consulate,” It said.

“The customer can choose either foreign currency or rupee dominated account, or both. Funds in these accounts will be fully repatriable, without the need for any regulatory approval,” the statement read.

SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir had said the new facility will be available to the nine million non-resident Pakistanis, allowing them to invest money in local stock markets, buy government bonds and securities, and avail basic banking services.

The SBP boss had added that at present, at least eight Pakistani banks will facilitate the Roshan Digital Accounts and allow overseas Pakistanis to deposit funds in either US dollars or Pakistani rupees.

Moreover, the PTI-led government is also expected to launch debt certificates with at least five different maturity periods and 5-7% and 9-11% returns on the dollar- and rupee-denominated ones, respectively.

Noting that Pakistan’s diaspora constituted a large number of individuals, Dr Baqir had told the publication that most of them were “outside the financial system”.

“We are one of the few countries in the region who have provided this digital on-boarding of the diaspora,” he said. “I want to emphasise on short tenor because if somebody wants to dip their toes, test the system, and take money out.

“We want people to do it because that’s the only way you will get confident” about the new system, he had added.

The new initiative is different — and convenient — in the sense that a non-resident would have had to visit the consulate or embassy to open a bank account earlier. While that was possible, direct access to the Pakistan Stock Exchange was not allowed.

The foreign capital-hungry South Asian country considers remittances from its diaspora key to its economy, given that the revenue from its exports last year was just $2 billion shy of the $23 billion that poured in the same period, ending June.

Furthermore, overseas Pakistanis sent a record $2.77 billion in July, indicating a $0.74-billion, or 36.5%, improvement compared to July last year, the SBP had announced last month, terming it the “highest ever recorded workers’ remittances in a single month”.