OVERSEAS PAKISTANIS HELP BUILDING THE ECONOMY

INTERVIEW: KHALID BIN SHAHEEN, SEVP NBP

AMANULLAH BASHAR
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Oct 18 - 24, 2010

Khalid Bin Shaheen, Senior Executive Vice President & Group Chief, Global Home Remittances Management Group, National Bank of Pakistan, having a great skill of motivating people successfully convinced the overseas Pakistanis especially in Saudi Arabia and UAE to come forward with a passion to support the national economy which is in crisis for quite sometimes besides eliciting their supports for rehabilitation of the flood victims dislocated at a massive scale across the country.

Khalid was sharing experiences of his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and UAE carrying a single point agenda to motivate overseas Pakistanis for their support to the economy through remittances as well as their contributions towards relief and rehabilitation efforts for the resettlement and reconstruction of the damaged settlements of the flood victims.

"It is my observation and judgment about overseas Pakistanis that they watch keenly and very closely about developments taking place in Pakistan. In fact, they are emotionally involved in helping out their motherland whenever the country is confronted with some difficulties whether it is flood devastations or economic issues faced by the country.

He said besides overseas Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia and UAE the governments of these friendly Muslim countries have also supported Pakistani open heartedly with a passion, which is beyond to quantify or measure in material terms. They supported Pakistan officially as well as unofficially. For example, over 100 Saudis stayed in Pakistan to personally help the flood affected people in all the four provinces.

Commenting on the significance of the home remittances in the national economy, Khalid said in nutshell, we could describe home remittances as the lifeline for Pakistan financial and economic health.

Ministry of Finance, State Bank and Overseas Pakistanis instituted Pakistan Remittances Initiative. Khalid is the marketing head of the PRI that represents all Pakistani banks, exchange companies. On behalf of PRI, he is taking frequent visits in the Middle East countries for marketing of the entire banking sector in Pakistan with an agenda to motivate Pakistanis for enhancing the external flows in the form of home remittances.

He said that despite all patriotism of the overseas Pakistanis we need to offer them some incentives to streamline the flow of home remittances.

One of the benefits or incentives is to offer them some monetary benefit or some kind of gift etc. Most significant improvement in this connection is the creation of RTGS (real time gross settlement) which is extremely attractive for overseas Pakistanis as it has removed the biggest hurdle in immediate delivery of the remittances to the families of overseas living in Pakistan. Under this scheme the remittances arrived under RTGS to any bank are immediately transferred into the account of the remitter in Pakistani bank without any loss of time. Earlier after receiving the cheque the receiving bank used to make pay order of the amount prior to transferring to the relevant bank which used to take three to five days. Now there is no hurdle of pay order etc as under RTGS system every bank is bound to transfer the amount into the bank of the account holder.

Khalid was of the opinion that the flow of home remittance would continue to grow in the days to come and suggested that arrangements are needed to send more and more skilled workers to strengthen these sources.

Impressive flow of home remittances indicate that the current financial year 2011 may witness record remittances to the mark of $12 billion dollar at the end of the year as the first quarter received $2.62 billion.

It is however feared that the impressive flow of home remittances may disrupt on the back of reports regarding deport of a number of Pakistani workers from western countries for want of documentations, it is learnt.

Meanwhile remittances sent home by overseas Pakistanis continued to show a rising trend as an amount of $ 2,646.30 million was received in the first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal year 2010-11, showing an increase of $ 314.8 million or 13.50 per cent over the same period of the last fiscal year.

The inflow of remittances in July-September, 2010 period from UAE, Saudi Arabia, USA, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman), UK and EU countries amounted to $621.28 million, $576.32 million, $511.93 million, $312.73 million, $296.89 million and $84.64 million respectively as compared to $504.01 million, $430.75 million, $498.76 million, $323.87 million, $235.08 million and $78.27 million respectively in the July-September, 2009. Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during the first three months of the current fiscal year amounted to $242.52 million as against $260.02 million in the same period last year.

The monthly average remittances for the July-September, 2010 comes out to $882.10 million as compared to $777.17 million during the corresponding period of the last fiscal year, depicting an increase of 13.5 per cent.

In September 2010, an amount of $922.06 million was sent home by overseas Pakistanis, up 14.38 per cent or $115.94 million, when compared with $806.12 million received in the same month last year.

During last month i.e. September 2010 remittances from UAE, USA, Saudi Arabia, UK GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman), and EU countries amounted to $231.70 million, $181.24 million, $175.82 million, $103.03 million, $102.94 million and $31.66 million respectively as compared to $179.84 million, $181.82 million, $134.31 million, $86.59 million, $112.39 million and $26.15 million in September 2009. Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during September 2010 amounted to $ 95.66 million compared with $ 84.94 million in the same month last year.