Thursday, October 29, 2020

Pakistan to establish ‘Real Estate Regulatory Authority’ for curbing black money

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Pakistan has effectively complied with another strong condition put forward by the Asia Pacific Group (APG) – a regional affiliate of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – as the state has prepared to implement measures for curbing black money in the real estate sector, Dunya News reported on Tuesday.

Sources familiar with the matter told the media that Pakistan will establish a ‘Real Estate Regulatory Authority’ to restrict black money in the sector.

Importantly, the country will ensure that lands and properties are not transferred in the name of any terrorist organizations or banned outfit.

Moreover, federal institutions will support the formation of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority.

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The new regulatory authority will make it mandatory for businessmen who are involved in the real estate businesses to register themselves with the authority and essential documentation of the businesses will follow.

In this regard, the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has already prepared an initial draft the establishment of the authority in accordance with the standards of the FATF.

Meanwhile, further work is being done jointly by the technical and law division of the SECP.

However, matters pertaining to taxation on the real estate sector are excluded from the scope of the authority.
Sources said that the draft for the establishment of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority could be presented in the next meeting of the federal cabinet for approval.

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This year, Pakistan has made significant improvements in its systems to fight money laundering (ML) and terror financing (TF) as per international standards – in compliance with of 40 recommendations of the APG to exclude itself from the grey list.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Monday that Pakistan had briefed the FATF in Bangkok about its viewpoint and explained the measures taken by Islamabad to the FATF Asia-Pacific Group.

“I do believe that Pakistan — to a considerable extent — has satisfied the friends that we are serious against money laundering and that we have taken solid steps to keep checks on money laundering, and the incumbent government has taken more steps in one year to keep checks on terror financing than all the steps taken during the last one decade.”

He added that despite Indian efforts to push Pakistan into the blacklist of the FATF, Pakistan’s viewpoint and efforts will be recognised in the FATF session in Paris.

In an exclusive interview with Al-Jazeera TV in September, Prime Minister Imran Khan alleged that New Delhi was trying to bankrupt Pakistan and push it into the FATF blacklist.

The development comes a week ahead of FATF’s review meetings in Paris (Oct 13-18) that would determine whether Pakistan should remain or move out of the grey list or be put on the blacklist.

The 41-member APG had adopted 3rd Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) on Pakistan during Aug 13-18 meetings in Canberra, Australia, and downgraded the country to “Enhanced Follow-up” category over technical deficiencies to meet normal international financial standards by October 2018. As a result, Pakistan is now required to submit quarterly progress reports, instead of biannual, to the APG, starting Feb 1, 2020 to show improvements in its technical standards on AML/CFT.

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