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SBP clarifies controversy on Afghan aid

While rejecting the claims made in a news report, SBP hit out by calling them incorrect and misleading. SBP clarified that it did not refuse to open the Afghan Relief Fund account but requested Finance Division to examine the implications of international sanctions.

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Media report emerged stating that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) refused to open an account for Afghanistan Relief Fund. However, SBP denied the report and issued an official statement as a rebuttal.

Important to note, Afghanistan is on the brink of a total economic and humanitarian crisis. Due to this, Pakistan vowed to provide aid to Afghanistan. As a result, the federal government requested SBP to issue a circular for opening the Afghan Relief Fund Account at all the scheduled banks.

However, the media report claims that SBP declined a request from the federal government for opening the Afghanistan Relief Fund.

“The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has refused to open the Afghanistan Relief Fund and requested the federal government to review its decision, expressing the fear that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) might impose sanctions against Islamabad,” the media report said.

Read more: Questioning FATF’s prejudice against Pakistan

“The federal government had requested the SBP governor that he should issue necessary
instructions to the scheduled banks to open the account. But so far, the account remains nonoperational,” the report further added.

Interestingly, the report also mentions the passage of the SBP Amendment Bill 2021 which seeks to enhance the independence of the central bank.

“The central bank’s reluctance to open the bank account may also raise questions over the federal government and the SBP relations, particularly after the passage of SBP Amendment Bill 2021 by the National Assembly on Thursday night,” the report noted.

Read more: Opposition fails to stop PTI’s SBP (Amendment) Bill-2022 despite huge claims

State Bank of Pakistan issues a rebuttal to the report

While rejecting the claims made in the news report, SBP hit out by calling them “incorrect and misleading.”

“SBP clarifies that the story ‘SBP refuses to open Afghanistan Relief Fund’ published on 15th Jan 2022 is incorrect and misleading. SBP has issued a rebuttal to the story,” SBP wrote on its official Twitter account.

Moreover, SBP said the reference to the SBP Amendment Act is also unwarranted. SBP clarified that it did not refuse to open the Afghan Relief Fund account. Instead, it requested Finance Division to examine the implications of international sanctions in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before such an account is opened and operationalized.

Additionally, owing to the dire conditions of the Afghan banking system, transferring funds through banking channels could be challenging. Therefore, SBP is looking into alternative methods.