Habib Bank to expand remittance business

Habib Bank to expand remittance business
Updated 22 March 2014

Habib Bank to expand remittance business

Habib Bank to expand remittance business

Overseas Pakistanis should be given more incentives to prompt them to send remittances home through legal channels, according to Hassan Raza, head of structured credits and global remittance business at Habib Bank.
In Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the construction sector is booming and they are hiring workers from Pakistan.
According to the official statement, they have a plan to hire 500,000 more labors. It would ultimately enhance the remittance volume to Pakistan.
Some important measures need to be taken to educate labors to send their remittances legally, Raza told Arab News in an exclusive interview.

As you said, there is a need to boost remittances. So, what measures are you going to take to achieve the four to five million Pakistani rupee remittance target?
For this, we will have to take two to three important measures. Initially, there is a need to educate people to send their remittances legally. This will be beneficial to them. Furthermore, nobody will ask them the source of their money. Still, people send their money through illegal ways, but with persuasion from the State Bank, PRI and scheduled banks, the number of legal remittances are growing gradually. There is also a need to raise awareness among laborers. As they leave Pakistan for jobs, they should always adopt legal ways to send their remittances. The labors are mostly recruited through government agencies or government authorized agencies, but once they go they get trapped by illegal agents there.

Is it possible to offer incentives in air tickets or other travel facilities for the relatives of overseas Pakistanis here?
Exactly, you are right. This should be implemented. The Pakistan government has already issued the card, but most of the people are not aware of these facilities. Such types of incentives are beneficial for the people. I have already discussed this s topic here with different people and they opine that relief should be given to overseas Pakistani in custom duties, or if he is bringing car with him he should be given relaxation in custom duty. In my opinion, depending on the remittance volume, he should be given VIP treatment at Pakistan s airport.

Pakistan receives $14 billion foreign exchange and takes a $6 billion loan from the IMF. Hence overseas Pakistanis should be given more importance and offered lucrative incentives. Isn’t it?
I totally agree with your perception. When we interact with our labor community we offer them gifts, we share their happiness as well. We offer them prizes through raffle draws. Similarly they get some benefits and recognition and I agree with you such benefits should be given at government level as well. In Saudi Arabia and the UAE, construction work is booming and they are hiring workers from Pakistan. According to the officials, they have a plan to hire 500,000 more labors. It would enhance the remittance volume in Pakistan. Some important measures need to be taken to encourage labors to make legal remittances.

Are our embassies in the Middle East helpful and what are their initiatives?

First of all, we have to prioritize our objects. Usually, overseas Pakistanis send their remittances from all over the world but a big chunk is received from Middle East. Our embassies help in the matter, but there is much more to be done. On our Independence Day, they hold functions and Pakistanis participate in them. That provides an opportunity to us. Furthermore, when the consulate staff visit labor camps, they can educate our people to send their remittances legally. It would bring some improvement. It is a national cause and every one of us should play our role. In this regard, Philippines can be taken as a role model for us. That country also receives a significant volume of foreign exchange.

You have mentioned the rebate problem. If this problem is not solved how would you be able to achieve your targets?

To resolve this issue, I discussed it with the government authority and urged the State Bank too though the present government has taken some measures to resolve the issue bringing some improvements as well. Our Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has promised to release some more funds for this purpose. This rebate issue is a talk of the town and the disbursement should be in time to expedite foreign exchange.

Why to break the transaction in parts and why the SR25 policy is still valid?

This should be abolished, but the banks have already done a lot of work on it. You can observe yourself. If someone is sending money four times in that way, banks and the State Bank can check him easily. That is not an easy task now.

What are the new products to be introduced in the markets in the near future?

If you observe, banks have same type of products. Two years ago we introduced our main product, which is called Cash Over the Counter (COC). This product has gained significant popularity among the customers. The other products are Account Credit and Account to Account. Another product is Third Party Payment. For example, if someone sends me money and he has an account in another bank, I send that in his particular bank account and it will be credited to his account. With the technological advancement, receiving and paying the amount can be done very promptly. One more is Pardes Card. The State Bank also showed a lot of interest in it. It is like a prepaid card. If someone sends you the money, the card gets loaded up promptly. That card can be utilized at the bank and anywhere else simply like your ATM card. It is free from withholding text, and interest and profit are also offered on it. It is equal to opening your account. Once you receive that card, you don’t need to visit your bank. As someone sends you the money, your card will be loaded up automatically. But I would also explain to you that the card could not gain as much popularity as it should be. I think people still prefer to visit their bank branch for transactions. I reiterate that the people who send remittances must be given more incentives.