Minister for Revenue, Hammad Azhar Friday informed the Senate that data of about 6,000 accounts of clients of BankIslami Pakistan was used for 23 minutes during which $6 million were taken out through international ATMs in a cyber attack on October 27, 2018.
Speaking in Senate, during question hour, he said that State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), has already clarified that except one, no evidence of banks data being hacked was provided by any bank or law-enforcement agencies to SBP. He also rejected the impression that more hanks had come under attack, adding that there was no wide breach of bank accounts data.
The minister also noted that no amount was taken out from any account, as it was an issue between the commercial bank and insurance companies. He said that SBP had taken timely preventive measures in relation to cyber attack. In a written reply, Minister for Finance Asad Umar told the House that SBP had developed a roadmap for added strength of the information security controls of Pakistan's banking industry and instructed the banks to take necessary measures to identify/counter any cyber threat to their systems in coordination with all the relevant stakeholders including payment schemes, vendors etc vide Payment System Department Circular issued on November 28, 2018.
To another question regarding $ 200 billion of Pakistani citizens kept in Swiss banks, Hammad Azhar, said that it was the then finance minister Ishaq Dar, who had said on floor of National Assembly that $200 billion, belonging to Pakistanis, were stashed in Swiss banks and then an inadequate treaty was signed with Swiss authorities, which this government had renegotiated with them comprehensively.
He said that from January, information from Swiss banks about Pakistanis, who had deposited their wealth there, would start pouring under the revised treaty.
He said that FBR had renegotiated the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement with Switzerland, which contains the article on exchange of information on request for tax purposes.
He said that this article has been renegotiated and updated on the basis of the latest OECD/UN Models that extends its scope beyond the information available with tax administration in normal course of business and includes information available with banks and other persons in fiduciary capacity.
The mechanism for exchange of information under the revised ADTA is effective from January 01, 2019, he said, adding that only then, the government would be able to come up with a figure about how much wealth had been kept there and how much of that was declared and otherwise.
So far, he explained data had been received from 29 countries about Pakistanis' 150000 accounts and the amount was about $10-11 billion, adding that it was being looked at how much of the money was legal.
In a written reply on the same question, Asad Umar said that all territories where Pakistani citizens might have stashed their funds were in FBR focus and the government/FBR was taking all possible measures to obtain information about the Pakistani nationals' assets in other countries, including money kept in Swiss banks for the application of tax laws.
Upon receipt of actionable tax information about Pakistani tax resident persons, he said that if the funds remitted out are found to be unexplained, tax demand could be raised that is recoverable against the assets located in Switzerland under the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (Multilateral Convention).
Umar said that both Pakistan and Switzerland are signatories to the Multilateral Convention along with 126 jurisdictions, which is an OECD initiative, geared to combating tax evasion through Exchange of Information amongst signatory states.
Pakistan under Article 5 of the Multilateral Convention can seek information from Switzerland about Pakistanis who may have stashed funds therein, he added.
To another query, the finance minister, in a written reply, said that the budget deficit in June 2008 stood at Rs777 billion, Rs 1834 billion in June 2013 and Rs 2260 billion in June 2018.
Likewise, the current account deficit stood at $13.87 billion in 2008, $2.50 billion in 2013 and $18.90 billion and foreign remittances were recorded at $6.45 billion in 2008, $13.92 billion in 2013 and $19.62 billion in 2018.
Updating the house on the amount of debt as on June 30, 2008, 2013 and 2018, Umar said that the total debt liabilities were Rs6.562 trillion, Rs 15.872 trillion and Rs 28.252 trillion, respectively.
He also informed the House that no tax exemption, concession or rebate was being granted on the basis of the nationality of an individual ie no specific tax concession or benefit had been conferred generally upon Chinese businesses.
However, the exemptions were specifically meant for the projects that were part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and included in Inter-Government Framework Agreement between Pakistan and China, he added.
In response to another query, he said Pakistan was implementing the action plan consisting of 27 points to strengthen its Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime of Financial Action task Force (FATF). He added the outcomes related to various actions were to be achieved by January, May and September next year and there was no deadline of December 15, 2018 in this connection.
He said the report of actions taken by the government up to December 2018 would be shared with APG/FATF after approval of the National Executive Committee.
The delegation, he noted, for participation in FATF's Asia-Pacific Joint Group meeting was to be held on January 08-10 next month and was likely to comprise eleven officials, including finance secretary.
Minister for Statistics told the House that as per the Labour Force Survey, conducted in 2015, there were a total of 3.62 million unemployed persons and of these, 0.51 million were in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 2.32 million in Punjab, 0.66 million in Sindh and 0.13 million in Balochistan. He added latest survey 2017 was under compilation.