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PRI-PIA Alliance To Help Boost Remittance inflows Through Banking Channels: Shaukat Tarin

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Karachi, December 29, 2009: Mr. Shaukat Tarin, the Federal Minister for Finance, has expressed the hope that strategic alliance between Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) would contribute towards the enhancement of remittance flows through official channels and help the Government to achieve the goal of formalizing the remittance market in the country.

Addressing a MoU signing ceremony between PRI and PIA held at State Bank of Pakistan, Karachi on Tuesday. Mr. Tarin urged the overseas Pakistanis to make sure that they are transferring their hard-earned income through official channels. He said that he was confident that PRI would usher in a new era in the realm of worker’s remittances and reach the ultimate destination of highest efficiency and maximum satisfaction levels.

Mr. Tarin said that the trend of remittances received in last five months of this fiscal year shows an increase of around 30 percent over the similar period in the last fiscal year.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Farooq Sattar, the Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, said that it gives him immense pleasure to state that PRI is moving ahead with the plans and achieving the milestones one by one. The MOU between PRI and PIA is a part of the overall plans set for PRI a few months back, he added.

He said that now overseas Pakistanis are increasingly moving towards official channels and are enjoying the incentives being offered to them i.e. no charges on remittances, better exchange rate, swift delivery etc.

Captain Aijaz Haroon, Managing Director PIA, said that this alliance which has been titled ‘Sons of Pakistan’ will catch the attention of overseas Pakistanis for remittances through official channels and acknowledge their contribution for excelling the foreign remittance target.

He said that PIA has always stood the test of times. Whether it is war or peace, carrying goods from local and international destinations for the calamity hit areas; operating at socio economic routes bridging time and distance between the developing rural population and urban cities of the country even at the price of airlines profitability; arranging transportation on short notices for national causes. PIA has always made an effort to deliver even in times of biased evaluation by the critics of PIA but we keep ourselves engaged in the processes of learning and improving our services through valuable opinions of our travelers.

He added “We at PIA put our heads together and decided that once again the national carrier will play its role in helping the nation lay down a strong foundation by facilitating the distances between the Overseas Pakistanis and Pakistan for the “perpetual structure” that our finance minister has envisaged.” The impediments such as insufficient presence of banks, collection and delivery of remittances are two major areas in which PIA can support by virtue of having several managers within the country and foreign stations and a vast network of Speedex, the PIA courier service. Capt Aijaz explained.

He said Pakistani living and working abroad desires that every year or once in two years they should get a chance to visit their near and dear ones. To fulfill their desire PIA and PRI have jointly decided to formulate a scheme by virtue of which every Pakistani who remits foreign exchange to Pakistan thru official channels will enjoy exclusive travel facilities from the national flag carrier earning air miles which will entitle them to ‘Incentive Packages’ and ‘Elite Passages’, making them distinguished and privileged passenger on board PIA planes. “This we feel will be a valuable motivation that will catch the attention of Overseas Pakistanis for remittances thru official channels and acknowledge their contribution for excelling the foreign remittance target.” Capt Aijaz commented.

In his welcome address, Syed Salim Raza Governor State Bank of Pakistan said that despite steady rise in the aggregate remittances there still exists considerable untapped potential and room to improve upon the service levels for overseas Pakistanis and for their families back home.

Mr. Raza said that PRI-PIA MoU is aimed at a strategic long-term alliance for the purpose of catering to the needs of Pakistani citizens living overseas including the need of such Overseas Pakistanis to travel to and from Pakistan and to facilitate the flow of remittance of such Overseas Pakistanis. He said that two organizations will work in a phased manner and in the first phase PRI will announce a scheme for Overseas Pakistanis under which initially 100 free return air tickets will be given by PRI through the lucky draw each month. All airports will be provided with marketing materials and PIA will provide special booths in respect of the Campaign, he said and added that all flights of PIA will screen a special in-flight movie to promote remittances through official channels. A separate scheme will be announced for PIA agents that are in the remittance business, he added.

SBP Governor said that in phase, two both PRI and PIA will introduce a co-branded frequent flyer card and a miles program. The card holder will be entitled to a number of privileges ranging from free tickets, excess baggage etc., he added. Mr. Raza said with the commencement of the phase three, PRI would have identified the locations of the Overseas Pakistanis that remit funds to Pakistan and can request PIA to focus flights specifically to the destinations where such Overseas Pakistanis are residing. PIA would have specific branded seats for such Overseas Pakistanis on its flights to such destinations with special benefits; he said and added that special lounges and counters will be provided to cater to such Overseas Pakistanis.

Syed Ali Raza, President National Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Aftab Manzoor, President Allied Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Atif Bukhari, President United Bank Limited and Mr. Muneer Kamal, President KASB Bank, informed the participants about initiatives taken by their respective banks to boost remittances.

The Federal Ministers for Finance and Overseas Pakistanis and SBP Governor offered their heartfelt condolences for the victims of yesterday’s unfortunate incident in Karachi. Mr. Muhammad Kamran Shehzad, Deputy Governor SBP, conducted Fateha prayers. Later, Mr. Najm-us-Saqib Shabbir, Head of PRI, and Captain Aijaz Haroon, Managing Director PIA, signed the MoU documents.