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Prime Minister Imran Khan launched on Thursday the 'Sohni Dharti Remittance Programme' (SDRP), stressing that his government plans to do more to incentivise overseas Pakistanis as they continue to support their country in difficult times.

“We are giving many incentives to overseas Pakistanis, but we should have started this programme much earlier,” he said while addressing the launch ceremony of the SDRP in Islamabad.

The SDRP has been designed to incentivise Pakistani workers abroad to send remittances to Pakistan through banks and exchange companies and earn reward points, said the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in an official statement on Thursday.

"These reward points could then be used to avail different benefits offered by partner organisations. SDRP can be accessed through a mobile application," the SBP added.

In his address, Khan thanked overseas Pakistanis for placing confidence in the future of the country by sending record high remittances of over $29 billion in the last fiscal year FY21 and continuing the trend in FY22.

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"The government has always encouraged and appreciated the efforts of overseas Pakistanis through various initiatives and programmes," he said.

He especially mentioned incentives like making remittance-transfer free of cost, providing free airtime for remittances received through mobile wallets and covering the marketing cost of remittance service providers.

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SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir in his welcome address said earlier initiatives like the Roshan Digital Account and Naya Pakistan Certificates have been huge successes as well.

Divulging details, he disclosed that all home remittances sent from anywhere in the world through legal channels are eligible for inclusion in the SDRP.

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Under the SDRP, if an individual sends remittance to the limit of USD10,000 or equivalent in one fiscal year, then they will be awarded 1% as a reward and allotted a green card category.

Similarly, for remittances sent by an individual between $10,000 and $30,000 or equivalent, the remitter would be given 1.25% as a reward and classified into the gold card category. Lastly, for remittances of more than $30,000 or equivalent, they will be awarded 1.5% as a reward and allotted a platinum card category.

The reward points can be redeemed by remitters and their beneficiaries for availing free of cost services from eight (08) participating PSEs at the moment. The services offered include international tickets by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the provision to pay for extra luggage on PIA's international flights.

Along with this, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has also allowed overseas Pakistanis to pay duty on the import of mobile phones and vehicles. The National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) will provide services related to the renewal of CNIC/NICOP and along with this, they can renew their passports without any hassle.

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Overseas Pakistanis can avail life insurance premium payments through state life insurance services and a facility to pay schools’ fees of overseas Pakistanis Foundation schools. Moreover, overseas Pakistanis will be able to make purchases through a network of utility stores across the country.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will provide preferential services to overseas Pakistanis under the umbrella of this program by installing separate counters and providing priority clearance whereas Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will ensure the placement of standees and banners for the promotion of this initiative.

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Meanwhile, Khan said that Pakistan has had to rely on loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to fulfill the shortage of dollars.

“The only way to come out of this crisis is to increase our exports," he added, addressing the remittance programme initiative.

On Wednesday, Khan had launched four new youth-focused projects while speaking at the Kamyab Jawan Convention 2021 in Islamabad.

The projects include Kamyab Jawan Markaz, Kamyab Jawan Green Youth Movement, Kamyab Jawan Innovation League, and Kamyab Jawan Talent Hunt Youth Sports League.

The premier said these projects will offer people an opportunity to develop skills and get loans to start businesses.

Source: Business Recorder