The country took another step towards the digital world with the launching of Raast initiative. It is Pakistan’s first instant payment system. Thus, it enables end-to-end digital payments among individuals, businesses and government entities within seconds.
Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the Raast at a ceremony. The initiative is part of the prime minister’s “Digital Pakistan Vision”. Which aims at including the poor segments of society in the formal economy.
“Raast is a big step towards realizing Pakistan’s potential. Hence, it will help the country move from cash economy to digital economy. Moreover, it will help the government to collect more taxes,”. Imran Khan said while addressing the launching ceremony in the federal capital.
Imran said that cash economy was one of the biggest hurdles for a country of 222 million to take full advantage of its potential. “Cash economy’s biggest disadvantage is tax collection; Pakistan collects the lowest tax in the world,” he said.
Explaining how the low tax collection affected the country, the prime minister said that it meant “we cannot build our infrastructure. We cannot do human development. Further more, we cannot educate children or improve hospitals.”
“A country which 50 years back was advancing the fastest in the region, cannot develop because we do not have enough money,” he added.
He said that the digital payment system would “slowly take people away from the cash economy”. Therefore, to a point where advantage could be taken of the country’s large population. Besides the shift towards his vision of ‘Digital Pakistan’, the system would also lead to the inclusion of people from the weaker segment of society, according to the premier.
“Another important aspect of this is that we include people from the weaker segment of society too in our development.”
He said that the government’s poverty alleviation initiative, Ehsaas, was using the system of mobile wallets. It was considering incorporating women’s bank accounts into the program. “Raast will take this forward,” he added.
“Our effort is that we bring financial inclusion to women. Moreover, give them opportunities, open bank accounts for them. Similarly, help them, give them livestock so they can themselves [improve] their standard of living and it becomes a source of livelihood for them. The Raast program will help with this.”
The prime minister congratulated the State Bank of Pakistan for the way it “engaged overseas Pakistanis and the way remittances increased”.
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