A meeting of National Executive Committee (NEC), chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar was held on Tuesday which reviewed the progress on FATF Action Plan.
National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) made a detailed presentation on the Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment, prepared jointly by NACTA and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in consultation with a number of relevant authorities. “After detailed deliberations on various aspects of the assessment report, the NEC approved the same subject to addressing certain observations in respect of key policy and legislative areas. NACTA will finalize the report accordingly,” according to the official statement issued Tuesday.
The NEC also approved the Risk Assessment Report on cash smuggling prepared by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR)-Customs.
The Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) presented the analysis on suspicious transaction reports filed by the financial sector in the last three years and the law enforcement actions taken against money laundering and terrorism financing on the basis of such reports. The NEC advised the authorities concerned to enhance enforcement actions and adopt a result oriented approach.
Experts say that government's efforts to get Pakistan off the FATF's grey list are missing on ground. “They are focusing on removing the fundamental underlying reasons. The comprehensive reports from NACTA and FIA show where the actual fault lines are. Now all depends on the actions that have been missing so far,” Dr. Ikram ul Haq, expert on economic and taxation matters told Arab News.
However, some stakeholders say they are experiencing adverse impacts of documentation requirements made necessary by the government. “Our business has declined by almost 70 percent due to documentation that requires too many questions from those who want to exchange the currency,” Zafar Paracha, General Secretary of Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan told Arab New.
“Most of our business has shifted to the grey market where no such questions are asked for currency conversion,” he added saying, “We need a compatible system.”
Pakistan was included in the 'grey list' of countries involved in providing monetary assistance to terrorism and related causes after a FATF meeting in Paris in June this year.
Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avoid being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering.
In October this year, a team of Asia-Pacific Group of FATF including experts from the Scotland Yard, US Department of Treasury, Financial Intelligence Unit of Maldives, Indonesian Ministry of Finance, Peoples' Bank of China, and Justice Department of Turkey visited Islamabad and met with Pakistani authorities.
“After an on-site assessment of the steps taken by Pakistan to curb terror financing and money laundering, the visiting FATF team has finalized a report with around 40 recommendations for de-listing Islamabad from its grey list from September next year”, local media had reported after the visit of the team.
The Ministry of finance officials and Information Minister could not be reached for a comment until the filing of this report.