ISLAMABAD - The government on Wednesday expressed its inability to bring back $200 billion of ‘Pakistani money’ stashed away in Swiss banks due to hurdles in procedure.

It is not an easy task to bring the money back from the Swiss banks as they do not give general information, but want to provide information of a specific person, official spokesperson for the Federal Board of Revenue, Shahid Hussain Asad, told the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue.

He further said Pakistan and the Swiss government held one round on this issue. Only the United States succeeded in recovering money from the Swiss banks and somehow Germany, he added.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar last year made a stunning revelation that Pakistani nationals had over $200 billion in the Swiss banks. The FBR and the Swiss authorities held a maiden meeting on this issue in August 2014 but no breakthrough was achieved.

Shahid Hussain Asad said Pakistan would become a member of Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes in 2017. This would help in exchanging details of a specific person. “We have been trying to seek information from Dubai for the last several years, but got no response because there is no agreement for exchange of information between the two countries,” he added.

The Senate Standing Committee was discussing the proposal of Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed that the government should allocate funds for Interpol in the budget, which could help in making details of Pakistanis secret accounts in Swiss banks accessible to the FBR. The senator was of the view that it would help in broadening tax base by catching the real tax evaders.

Finance Secretary Dr Waqar Masood informed the committee that funding to the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta) was no issue. The government would provide required funds to the Nacta as soon as it had a proper structure. He further said the government was structuring the Nacta and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would take a final decision on which departments should be placed under the organisation.

The committee also agreed that special allocation should be made in the budget for the martyrs of Army Public School, Peshawar, both staff and students, and that this money should be disbursed at the earliest to the families of those who laid down their lives during the brutal terror attack of December 16, 2014.

The committee also recommended allocation of money in the budget for a cyber security strategy since Pakistan is a victim of cyber warfare and cyber attacks. This should be entrusted to a cyber security task force, especially constituted for the purpose that can then propose countermeasures.

The committee also agreed to keep token money in the budget for life and medical insurance of journalists, photographers and news cameramen of both print and electronic media, who lose their lives in the line of duty or are injured in bomb blasts or paralysed for life while performing their professional duties. The media houses should also contribute to it, the committee asserted.