ISLAMABAD: The government is reviewing the Business Visa List (BVL) of granting on-arrival business visas to citizens of 67 countries, including the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and aims to replace it with a reciprocal policy for local businessman in the foreign destinations.
The BVL policy was approved by the prime minister in June 2006 with the purpose of promoting country’s trade with rest of the world. Parliamentary Secretary for ministry of finance Rana Afzal Khan told the national assembly that the government now reviewing the BVL and the facility will extend to foreign countries on reciprocal bases. PPP legislator Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho questioned that Pakistan don’t have trade with some of these countries, then why such facility granted to them.
The parliamentary secretary told her that is the main reason that the incumbent government is reviewing the BVL scheme and will adopt a rational approach after proper consultation with all stakeholders. In written the house was informed that the government of Pakistan unilaterally introduced this facility for these countries while no such facility is available for Pakistani nationals.
Through another question, the parliamentary secretary informed the legislators that the measures adopted are bearing fruits as the government has achieved 99 per cent revenue collection target till February this year. He expressed the hope that the government would be able to achieve tax collection target set for current fiscal year, i.e. Rs23.54 billion for the year 2013-14.
Through another written reply, the NA was informed that the government is considering various proposals to modernize customer services at Central Directorate of National Savings. Proposal to provide profit payment to the clients of National Savings Centers through Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards is also under consideration. As the proposal of ATM services involves new technology and change of procedures which requires detailed due diligence, the finalization of the proposal would take some time.
Rana Afzal Khan told the legislators that increase in power tariff is not the IMF condition but before forwarding assistance to Pakistan for budgetary support, the donor agency identified some flaws and asked the government to remove these shortcomings. He totally rejected that increase in power tariff was pre-condition of the IMF. But MNA Jamshid Dasti asked the parliamentary to speak the truth in parliament, and increase in power tariff was pre-condition of IMF before announcing assistance to Pakistan. But Khan said Pakistan is member of the IMF since 1950 and it forward assistance to any its member who has financial constraints.
The national assembly was informed that the incumbent government has taken total foreign loan $2.438 billion, which consists of $1.098 billion IMF loan and $1.340 billion from other financial institutions. The total foreign loan was taken by the government from June, 2013 to February, 2014. During the same period, the government has paid total $186.94 million as interest on foreign loan, which consists of $32 million to IMF and $154.94 million to other financial institutions during June 2013 to Feb 2014. The NA in written was informed that total domestic loans obtained for budgetary support for the period from June, 2013 to February, 2014 works out at Rs1.287 trillion. It includes loans obtained from State Bank of Pakistan, scheduled banks and non-banking sector.
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