The State Bank of Pakistan promised the Senate Body that the bank accounts of overseas Pakistanis will not be closed during the next six months subject to the provision of valid passport copy, visa, exit stamps and resident permit in NADRA’s online system “Verisys”.
The Executive Director SBP told the Senate committee that more than 95% of bank accounts of overseas Pakistanis have been verified through the biometric mechanism and the rest of the accounts’ verification is in the pipeline.
He added that different instructions were issued to the banks through the Banking Policy & Regulations Department (BPRD) of State Bank of Pakistan, with regards to Biometric verification of non-resident Pakistanis, residents of Pakistan temporarily living outside the country and joint account holders where one account holder was temporarily outside Pakistan.
He said that the last date of biometric verification of bank accounts for overseas Pakistanis was June 30, but it was extended to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis whose families draw their remittances through ATM cards.
As a result of the closure of bank accounts due to the non-biometric verification, the overseas Pakistanis will alternatively look to transfer their money through “Hundi” and ultimately there could be a considerable decrease in foreign remittances which was US$21.84 billion during the FY 2018-19.
He said that the SBP was cognizant of the problems being faced by people in far-flung areas who are not well educated and well aware of the requirements but Pakistan, at this stage, cannot afford to let the banking system go unverified.
He added that the SBP had relaxed the biometric verification requirement for people who could not come back for this purpose and had put up the provision of presenting just copies of passport and visa to complete the verification.
Both the sides agreed that this new policy needs to be publicized and advertised properly through banks as well as through media of mass communication to reach out to people who cannot read and understand the notifications in English so that people do not use alternate illegal money transfer channels.