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GENERAL Remittance cards presented

Pakistani expatriates living in Dubai and the Northern Emirates who sent money back home through legal banking channels, were awarded special remittance incentive cards at the Pakistan Consulate General in Dubai yesterday.

By Ashfaq Ahmed
February 5, 2002

Pakistani expatriates living in Dubai and the Northern Emirates who sent money back home through legal banking channels, were awarded special remittance incentive cards at the Pakistan Consulate General in Dubai yesterday.

Amanullah Larik, consul general, distributed 50 cards - 35 gold and 15 silver - enabling the recipients to use special incentives offered by the Pakistan Government.

"The remittance incentive scheme launched by the government last September has received tremendous response from community members in the UAE as more people are now sending their remittances through legal channels," he said.

He stressed that it would help curb the practice of sending money through hawala (an illegal channel) as people would now get several benefits from the new incentive package.

However, some who received the card yesterday complained that a number of services promised by the government in the package are still not available.

They said they found no one at the special counters at Pakistani airports to help overseas Pakis-tanis. Nor did they get facilities from customs officials as was promised. They urged immediate steps to be taken to fulfil the promises made if the scheme is to be successful.

Tariq Masud, community welfare counsellor at the consulate, said steps were being taken to improve the services and give special handling facilities.

"The facilities are being im-proved following complaints from expatriates," he added.

Larik said the recently launched incentive package comprised a number of facilities such as duty-free baggage allowance, seat quota in Pakistani colleges and universities, free issue and renewal of passports and special handling facilities at the airports.

There are two types of card, the silver card being issued to people who remit $2,500 and the gold to those sending $10,000 or more per annum through normal banking channels.

"In order to keep track of the remitted amount and to provide for evidence, a passport-size green Remittance Book is provided to all Non-Resident Pakistanis (NRPs). The remittance book is available at all Pakistani missions and Pakistani airports, and will soon be available at Pakistani banks in the country.

"After the NRP remits the money, he must send the remittance book to the nearest Pakistani mission with an application, which then go to the Overseas Pakistani Foundation for the issue of remittance cards."

Pakistani expatriates who remit foreign currency equivalent to $2,500 per annum to Pakistan will be entitled to free issue and renewal of passports, the use of facilitation counters at the airport for special handling at arrival and departure lounges at Pakistani airports, and duty free allowance on personal baggage items worth $700 once a year.

Priority will be given to avail themselves of other schemes offered by the OPF for housing, insurance and pensions.

Financial advisors for the privatisation will put together groups of prominent NRP investors to bid for the units being privatised.

Priority will also be given to NRPs in the auction of industrial units.

Additional benefits provided to those who remit $10,000 or more include a special seat quota for their children in all the professional colleges and universities, and duty-free allowance on personal baggage items worth $1,200 per year.