October 24, 2019
Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar on Wednesday expressed the confidence that Pakistan was progressing positively on the action plan of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and would come out of its ‘grey list’ in 2020.
FATF, a global watchdog for money laundering and terrorist financing, last Friday gave Pakistan a four-month lifeline, urging Islamabad to fulfil its commitments by February 2020.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Azhar, who led the Pakistani delegation at FATF’s five-day plenary in Paris last week, said that the country’s progress had been duly recognised in the watchdog’s September report.
He said considerable progress had been made on many points of the action plan in a short period of 10 months. Till September, action on five out of the 27 items of the FATF action plan was incomplete while that on the rest was largely or partially complete.
Pakistan’s performance vis-à-vis anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) was appreciated at the FATF plenary session, he added.
Azhar said some sections were campaigning to have the action plans of the Asia Pacific Group (APG) and International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) of FATF merged which could have created a lot of difficulties for Pakistan with the number of action items exceeding 100. Completion of action plans of both APG and ICRG by February next year would not have been feasible for Pakistan, he added.
However, in a win for Pakistan, it was decided that the country will be able to avail the APG observation period until October 2020 and it will not be merged with the ICRG action plan.
Azhar said Pakistan’s APG action plan will run in parallel with the ICRG action plan, but that the latter was the “first priority” for the country. He expressed the hope that the ICRG action plan will be completed by June 2020.
The minister said a dedicated autonomous secretariat was being established for issues relating to the FATF, which will work in coordination with all the provinces and departments.
Moreover, special cells have also been set up in all the relevant government departments to comply with the requirements of FATF, he added.
He lauded the Financial Monitoring Unit, State Bank of Pakistan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, the armed forces and law enforcement agencies, all provincial governments and Federal Board of Revenue for their efforts to achieve the action plan’s objectives.
He said the final report of Pakistan’s progress after September will be submitted to the FATF in January, ahead of its next plenary.
The minister said completion of the FATF action plan would enhance the capacity of national institutions and maintain the standard for following the best international practices in the country