Book on issue of offshore assets launched
A book “Panama Leaks – A Blessing in Disguise – Offshore Assets of Pakistani Citizens” was launched on Thursday. This has been authored by Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi to highlight various legal taxation aspects of businesses abroad. Speaking at a ceremony, organised by Corporate Pakistan Group – CPG, at Arts Council, Zaidi said that “my friends and colleagues’ advised me against writing on this highly sensitive issue but I still decided to do it”.
The book, which is a compilation of a series of articles on the Panama Papers on Pakistanis’ businesses abroad, carried by Business Recorder. According to him, “We have made our country insecure by ourselves.” He attributed the capital flight to political and economic uncertainty for the past several decades. Quoting from his book, he said the Pakistanis owned about $150 billion of assets abroad, whereas the total national foreign debt was of $80 billion, approximately.
He said establishing offshore business is one hundred percent legal as per laws. However, he made it clear that the owners of all such foreign setups should declare their offshore assets in Pakistan. Zaidi also warned that “no one knows how much the foreign assets are safe abroad,” as any new law could deprive people of their businesses. He said the country was quite safe for businesses, but he described economic policies as ‘anti-people’ forcing people to go abroad.
Alluding to book’s title, Editor Business Recorder, Wamiq A Zuberi, said that “it [book] is indeed a blessing in disguise” to bring the offshore assets’ issues under the spotlight. He said that Shabbar Zaidi had accepted his suggestion to initiate a debate. According to him, having this knowledge can help even a layman better understand the phenomenon of offshore activity. Syed Asad Ali Shah lauded the author for writing on such a controversial topic and termed the book a great contribution to the ongoing debate.
He said that the book explained the ways for making the offshore assets and identified flaws and lacunae in the laws that encouraged people to set up businesses abroad.
Kishwer Zehra, a member of National Assembly called for a “secured and safe Pakistan”, where people could invest without any fear. Sirajuddin Aziz, Asim Zulfiqar Ali and Raza Zaidi also spoke on the book. Muhammad Azfar Ahsan gave a welcome speech while Aasma Shabbar Zaidi presented a vote of thanks. A large number of people from different walks of life attended the ceremony.