By Muhammad Luqman
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has decided to maintain Pakistan’s status on its ‘grey list’ of countries until June, when the next review will take place, according to a statement issued by Ministry of Finance in the capital Islamabad on Friday.
“FATF members agreed to maintain Pakistan’s status on FATF’s Compliance Document, normally referred [to] as the Grey List,” the statement issued after the conclusion of the six-day FATF plenary meeting in Paris, added.
The Finance Ministry said, during the last reporting period, Pakistan made “significant progress” in the implementation of the 27-point FATF Action Plan, which was demonstrated by the completion of nine additional action items.
“FATF reviewed progress made by Pakistan towards implementation of the Action Plan. While acknowledging the steps taken by Pakistan towards implementation of [the plan] and welcoming its high-level political commitment, FATF highlighted the need for further actions for completing the Action Plan by June 2020,” according to the statement.
It emphasised that the government “stands committed for taking all necessary action” in order to complete the remaining items in the action plan and that a strategy in this regard has been formulated and is being implemented.
The FATF in its statement issued after the Paris meeting said it “strongly urges” Pakistan to “swiftly complete” its full action plan by June 2020.
The watchdog did take into account recent “notable improvements” made by Pakistan, saying the country has, to date, “largely addressed” 14 out of 27 action items, with varying levels of progress made on the rest of the action plan.
With a minimum of three votes by FATF members needed to avoid the organisation’s blacklist, Pakistan has been able to avoid punishment so far thanks to support from China and other friendly countries including Malaysia and Turkey.
Pakistan is already finalising major amendments to at least a dozen of its laws to meet the FATF requirements by June. Targets have been set for further legislation to upgrade about 12-13 laws and subordinate legislation to complete the overall legal framework in line with the FATF standards, according to English newspaper, Daily Dawn.
Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry has said that a majority of FATF members had recognised Pakistan’s efforts to improve its counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regime at the financial watchdog’s latest plenary meeting.
“It was decided at the meeting that Pakistan will be allowed more time to continue implementing its action plan,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a news briefing in Beijing.
The statement by the Chinese government came hours ahead of the FATF decision regarding Pakistan’s fate on the watchdog’s grey list.
By Muhammad Luqman