Pakistan elected chair of WHO executive board In a major evelopment

FB_IMG_1496494809465.jpg(BY . Ijaz Hashmi  ) Pakistan elected chair of WHO executive board
In a major evelopment, Pakistan was elected as chair of the World Health Organizations Executive Board. The elite group considered the highest global policy forum on health comprising of 34 members countries elected Pakistan as its chair during its 141st session held on 1st June in Geneva where after Director General Health of Pakistan Dr. Assad Hafeez formally assumed office as Chairman of the Executive Board.

The election was a two tier process. The first phase was held at the regional level while the final phase at the global forum. Pakistan was first elected by the group of 22 countries comprising the Eastern Mediterranean Region and later at the global forum by the Executive Board comprising of 34 countries. The Executive Board is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, each one designated by a Member State elected to do so by the World Health Assembly. Member States are elected for three-year terms.

Minister for National Health Services, Saira Afzal Tarar congratulated the nation over the development and said it was indeed a great honor for Pakistan and recognition of the important role the country was playing in the global health arena. She said Pakistan had been chosen earlier as the host of prestigious regional conference of health ministers being held in October that will bring together Health Ministers from 22 countries in South Asia, Middle East, West Asia and North Africa. Pakistan has previously served as Vice Chair of the Executive Board and is also member of the board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

The Executive Board of the World Health Organization meets at least twice a year. The annual Board meeting is held in January when the member countries agree upon the agenda for the World Health Assembly and the resolutions to be considered by the Health Assembly with a second shorter meeting in May, immediately after the Health Assembly. The main functions of the Executive Board are to advise and facilitate the World Health Assembly and to give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly comprising 194 member countries.

E-Rozgar centre opened at UET

TAXILA: As many as 40 e-Rozgar centres are being established in 11 universities across the province at an estimated cost of Rs547 million where three-month training will be imparted to the youth to enable them to get self-employment in the global online job market.

This was stated by adviser to the Punjab chief minister Dr Umar Saif at the inaugural ceremony of an e-Rozgar centre at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Taxila.

Dr Saif said e-Rozgar centres would nurture the country’s intellectual capital to make a perfect blend of creativity and self-sustainability to make them value-creating members of society. He said the training would equip the youth to have a range of avenues to generate self-sustainable income through online freelancing for various sites around the globe in technical, non-technical and creative areas.

The adviser said the entrepreneurship and self-business opportunities through freelancing would help the youth explore more profitable avenues besides contributing to the national economic development.

Speaking on the occasion, UET Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Niaz Ahmad said the scheme would bring down unemployment.

Later, the e-Rozgar lab at the UET was renamed as Dr Umar Saif Lab.

Probe into use of gift scheme for money laundering

ISLAMABAD: A select group of wealthy Pakistanis is reported to have laundered Rs102 billion during the ongoing fiscal year by describing the money as “gift”.

Under the existing laws, gifts are exempt from taxes and a large number of individuals with high net worth are using the option as a safe means of transferring incomes, assets and wealth without contributing to the national revenue, according to a top tax official.

The official said that 2,785 people might have laundered money by declaring it “gifts” received from their parents, siblings or spouses, who were either out of the tax net or had no known source of income.

The cases involving money laundering through “gift back arrangements” were unearthed during scrutiny of tax returns filed by the wealthy individuals last year. It was found that income was declared in many returns, but taxes paid on the incomes were nominal.

The wealth statements of the individuals showed their net assets running into hundreds of millions of rupees, and even higher in some cases.

The Anti-Money Laundering (AML) cell of the Intelligence & Investigation-Inland Revenue has initiated investigations against the identified people, who put assets worth millions of rupees in the gift category while filing their returns, according to the official.

The data collected by the AML cell revealed that 2,785 rich individuals declared receipt of gifts worth Rs102bn in their wealth statements in the tax year 2016.

In three of the cases, individuals declared gifts of Rs1bn and above, with the biggest amount of gift received being Rs1.7bn.

As many as eight individuals declared gifts worth between Rs1bn and Rs500 million.

In the third category, 97 individuals declared gifts worth between Rs500m and Rs200m. Likewise, 97 people declared having received gifts worth Rs200m to Rs100m, while 280 individuals declared gifts of between Rs100m and Rs50m in their wealth statements.

A total of 2,348 people declared gifts worth Rs50m to Rs10m.

A tax official said the AML cell was now scrutinising these cases to determine whether the expensive gifts came from legitimate sources or not.

The cell would also examine the duly reported and taxed incomes of the individuals who “gave the gifts” and whether or not it was just another way of deceiving the tax authorities.

The tax official, however, said that not all the cases analysed so far involved wrongdoing. In several cases the gifts were found to be genuine, having been given by individuals of high net worth to members of their family after paying taxes.

The official said that during preliminary investigations of the returns, it was observed that in many cases the net assets gradually increased in wealth statements over only a few years, without there being any taxable income behind the accretion.

In such cases, the reconciliation of net assets from previous years is reached through claims of expensive gifts as inflows, without disclosing any details about how and from where such gifts were obtained.

“This practice raised suspicion that this may be just another way of avoiding payment of taxes through misreporting of sources of income,” the official said, adding that the AML cell also flagged these cases to determine if the “gift back arrangement” was being employed to launder the tax-evaded incomes.

In cases where it is found that a “gift back arrangement” has been employed with the intention to evade tax, the assets of the individuals concerned can be confiscated under the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010.

Moreover, criminal references can be filed in the Special Court of Customs & Taxation.

Laundering the proceeds of tax evasion through schemes such as “gift back arrangements” are liable to punishment with rigorous imprisonment of up to 10 years, along with heavy fines as well as forfeiture of the properties involved.

PM’s younger son grilled by JIT for seven hours

ISLAMABAD: Appea­ring before the joint investigation team (JIT) for the first time, the prime minister’s younger son, Hassan Nawaz, brought with him three volumes of documents to support his family’s claims in the Panama Papers investigation on Friday.

Mr Nawaz arrived at the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) at around 9:50am, but unlike his elder brother did not stop to speak to journalists. He simply waved to his supporters and entered the JIT secretariat housed in the FJA for a seven-hour-long session with the six-member team headed by Wajid Zia, the additional director general of the Federal Investigation Agency.

Since May 28, the PM’s elder son, Hussain Nawaz, has appea­red thrice before the JIT and attended lengthy sessions. He is expected to attend another session with the JIT on Saturday (today).

Sources privy to the investigation said Friday’s session had focused on details of the businesses and transaction details of the funds Mr Nawaz had used to establish companies in the United Kingdom.

According to sources, the JIT questioned Mr Nawaz with regard to an interview telecast on the BBC in which he had claimed that he was a student in London in 1999 with no income of his own. He was asked how he managed to start his own business in London on April 12, 2001 after setting up a company named Flagship Investments Limited.

The sources said the questions Mr Nawaz was asked centred around his ownership of companies and how he managed to accumulate massive capital holdings in a short span of time.

The investigators had noted that the premier’s son had admitted to having no income in 1999, but a financial report dated April 2001 showed Mr Nawaz to have 70,5071 pounds sterling to his credit. The investigation team also asked how he managed to establish 10 companies before 2005, even prior to the sale of the Jeddah factory.

The investigators are said to have referred to a report prepared by former minister Reh­man Malik and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s ‘confessional statement’ regarding alleged money laundering by the Sharif family with particular reference to his business and the Mayfair properties owned by his elder brother.

The sources said that Mr Nawaz rejected the allegations of financial impropriety, saying that had this been the case, Mr Malik — who was interior minister under the Pakistan Peoples Party government — would have taken action against their family.

He took the stance that his father had been in exile when he established the companies and managed to run his business after procuring a loan. Mr Nawaz claimed that he established the businesses in a lawful manner and presented documents in three volumes in support of his claim.

After the session, journalists gathered in front of the FJA expected Mr Nawaz to make a statement, but he simply waved at them and left.