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Wednesday Oct 11 2017

UAE doesn’t share info about $8bn investment by Pakistanis in real estate, NA told

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue, the State Bank of Pakistan and the Federal Investigation Agency informed the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Finance that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities did not share information about those Pakistani nationals who had invested $8 billion into the real estate despite sending repeated reminders.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Asad Umar had raised the question about Pakistanis investing $8 billion into the real estate of the UAE and sought details of actions taken by the concerned departments almost one and a half years ago and finally he got response from the concerned authorities, conceding that nothing concrete was achieved to curb the hard-earned foreign exchange.

The State Bank of Pakistan told the parliamentarians that they did not grant permission to any individual or company for the acquisition of property in the UAE or any other country as the SBP was empowered to approve investments up to $5 million and exceeding $5 million limit approval of the ECC was required for moving ahead.

The NA Standing Committee on Finance and Revenues, which held its meeting under the chairmanship of Qaiser Sheikh here at the Parliament House on Tuesday, also decided to write a letter to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for appearing before the committee for apprising about the policy of the government for achieving Riba (interest) free economy.

Nafisa Shah, MNA, belonging to PPP, demanded the resignation of finance minister during the proceedings of the meeting, saying that the macroeconomic situation was worsening in the wake of rising current account deficit and the World Bank’s latest report also dwelt upon the challenging situation for Pakistan’s economy, so in these circumstances the finance minister who was busy in facing a NAB trial should resign immediately.

Regarding the investment of $8 billion into Dubai’s real estate, the SBP told the committee that the central bank accorded approval and maintained data for permissible transactions through the formal channel. Chairman FBR Tariq Pasha and Member IRS Khawaja Tanvir told the committee that the FBR had taken up this matter with UAE tax authorities time and again and requests were made directly as well as through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but no response was so far received despite repeated reminders.

The Federal Cabinet on 24-8-2015 had also approved summary to initiate negotiations with the UAE to develop a mechanism for exchange of information through a protocol in view of Article 27 of the existing avoidance of double taxation agreement but the UAE authorities had not so far provided the choice of venue and dates despite many requests made by the FBR.

PTI leader Asad Umar said that the state institution had collapsed as no one was bothered to undertake any probe on these issues. He said that country’s foreign debt went up by $22 billion in the last four years and at that time $8 billion were invested into the real estate in the UAE without any permission, indicating an alarming situation for the country’s economy.

Real Estate Valuation: The Chairman FBR, Tariq Pasha, told the panel that there was a massive difference in the valuation rates notified by the FBR and market rates of real estate. The FBR undertook an exercise to jack up the valuation rates but found that there was still massive difference, so it was decided to conduct a market survey and then come up with proposed rates in consultation with the stakeholders. “We will finalise our exercise in a couple of weeks and then valuation of real estate will be jacked up accordingly,” he added.

One representative of the real estate sector, who was invited into the official meeting, raised his complaint that they were facing harassment because of differential in rates among the FBR notified rate, DC rates and market rates.

Regarding the FBR’s collection in the last fiscal year 2016-17, Chairman Tariq Pasha said the Board collected Rs3,367.9 billion in the last fiscal against Rs3,112.5 billion in FY 2015-16, registering a growth of 8.2 percent. He said that FBR’s collection stood at Rs765 billion in the first quarter (July-Sept) period of the current fiscal and recorded a growth of 20 percent compared to the same period of the last financial year.

The story was originally posted in The News

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