|UAE govt ignoring requests for property buyers’ information|
ISLAMABAD: The sub-committee of National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance was informed on Tuesday that despite a bilateral tax treaty with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), authorities were not responding to repeated requests since 2011 seeking details of Pakistanis who own properties in the Gulf nation.
The sub-committee, led by Dr Shezra Mansab Ali and includes PTI’s Asad Umar and PML-N’s Isphanyar M Bhandara, was formed to look into matters pertaining to investment in real estate sector of UAE by Pakistani citizens, Dawn reported today.
Briefing the sub-committee, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Tariq Pasha said, “We asked the UAE authorities for a meeting — including one with Ambassador of UAE to Pakistan — but they have not even responded to this request either.”
He informed the committee that the FBR had even tried to approach the Federal Cabinet and the Foreign Office in this regard but no progress has been made.
“There seems to be nothing we can do as we are at the receiving end,” Mr Pasha said.
On the occasion, Dr Ali noted the current wave of investments by Pakistanis in UAE started in 2006, and continues despite concerns by the respective governments.
The main issue in this regard is to devise a strategy for the government to cap the flight of capital for purchase of properties abroad, she added.
Mr Umar highlighted that the information released by Dubai Land Authority — possibly for marketing purpose after every six months — shows investments made by citizens of different countries.
“There was a media report that Pakistanis have invested around $8 billion in Dubai in past four years,” he added.
Responding to a query by Mr Umar, a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) official said that anti-corruption laws were used to obtain relevant information from the UAE in Panama case.
Only anti-corruption laws and money laundering laws can be used to determine the names of those who had bought properties in the UAE, the NAB official added.
The NAB official, citing the example of Emaar – a UAE-based real estate company registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) – said that money is being forwarded illegally.
The SECP should ask Emaar in writing if it was making bookings for apartments in Dubai, he added.
An official of the State Bank said that according to Pakistani law, permission for investments abroad up to $5 million is obtained by the central bank, whereas approval for amounts higher than this are granted by the Economic Coordination Committee.
“However, no permission has ever been granted for investments in real estate abroad,” the SBP official added.
The sub-committee decided to issue directives to all relevant agencies including the Federal Investigation Agency, NAB, State Bank, FBR, etc to identify loopholes in their laws which facilitate money laundering.
The sub-committee decided to invite officials of the Ministry of Law and Justice and Foreign Office to know if any pressure can be exerted on UAE to know the names of Pakistanis who have bought properties there.