KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday inaugurated the Sohni Dharti Remittance Programme (SDRP) offered jointly by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Ministry of Finance and the financial institutions at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad, a statement issued by the SBP said.
This is an innovative programme designed to incentivise the overseas workers abroad to send remittances to Pakistan through banks and exchange companies and earn reward points.
These reward points could then be used to avail different benefits offered by the partner organisations. SDRP can be accessed conveniently from anywhere in the world through a mobile application.
In his address as the chief guest, Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked the overseas Pakistanis for posing confidence in the bright future of their homeland by sending record high remittances of over $29 billion during the last fiscal year of FY21 and continuing the trend in FY22.
The present government has always encouraged and appreciated the efforts of the overseas Pakistanis through various initiatives and programmes, such as making remittances transfer free-of-charge, providing free airtime for remittances received through mobile wallets and covering marketing cost of remittance service providers.
The prime minister congratulated the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Ministry of Finance, financial institutions, participating public sector entities (PSEs) and all other stakeholders and said without their efforts the launch of this remittance incentive programme would not have been possible.
He termed the launch of SDRP as a tribute to the Pakistani workers abroad who have been contributing in the development of the country through sending their hard-earned money back home.
He also appreciated the concept of giving incentives through a digital application for sending remittances via official channels.
In his address of welcome, SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir expressed heartfelt gratitude to the prime minister for his continuous interest and guidance in developing ways to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis and workers abroad.
Dr Baqir elaborated that the Sohni Dharti remittance programme is another outcome of the PM’s vision. Referring to earlier initiatives, he said, Roshan Digital Account and the Naya Pakistan Certificates have been huge successes and the PM’s support has played an instrumental role in it.
Other initiatives like the Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar Scheme, providing low-cost housing finance for the first time to home owners is another example where the PM’s vision and support has led to a significant takeoff of housing finance in the country, which had otherwise been negligible.
Dr Baqir said that he was delighted and privileged to announce the launch of SDRP, which is an excellent combined effort of the government of Pakistan, central bank, financial institutions and other organisations.
He said all home remittances sent from anywhere in the world through legal channels are eligible for inclusion in the SDRP. Besides, the funds received in the Roshan Digital Accounts, which are consumed locally through conversion, and; thus, become non-repatriable, also qualify for the inclusion in the programme.
The SBP governor termed the launch of SDRP another step towards digitalisation and financial inclusion that would play a significant role in the digital onboarding of the overseas Pakistanis and their beneficiaries in Pakistan. The mobile application of SDRP is available at both Google Android and Apple IOS platforms. He also appreciated the participating banks, PSEs and other stakeholders, in this regard, as it was due to their hard work that this initiative finally saw the light of the day.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tareen congratulated the SBP, PSEs and other relevant stakeholders for implementing the programme as a technology-based solution.
The establishment of Pakistan Remittance Initiative in 2009 was a decision that has worked quite effectively to integrate the country’s financial institutions with the ones abroad to help Pakistani diaspora in sending remittances to their families in Pakistan in a very efficient and cost-effective manner, he added.
Under the SDRP, if an individual sends remittances to the limit of $10,000 or equivalent in one fiscal year, then he/she will be awarded one per cent as a reward and allotted a green card category.
Similarly, for the remittances sent by an individual between $10,000 and $30,000 or equivalent, the remitter would be given 1.25 per cent as reward and classified into gold card category.
Lastly, for remittances of more than $30,000 or equivalent, he/she will be awarded 1.5 per cent as reward and allotted a platinum card category.
The reward points can be redeemed by the remitters and their beneficiaries for availing free-of-charge services from eight participating PSEs at the moment. The services offered include international tickets by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the provision to pay for extra luggage on international flights of PIA.
Along with this, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has allowed the overseas Pakistanis to pay duty on the import of mobile phones and vehicles.
The National Database and 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.
The overseas Pakistanis can avail life insurance premium payment through the State Life Insurance services and a facility to pay schools’ fee 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 the overseas Pakistanis under the umbrella of this programme by installing separate counters and providing priority clearance, whereas the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will ensure the placement of standees and banners for the promotion of this initiative.