Govt. to register freelancers over fears of money laundering


Ministry of Information and Telecommunication told the senate that the administration wants to register freelancers as a measure to put an end to money laundering.

A meeting was held recently between the Senate Committee on Information and Telecommunication and the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication. The meeting was chaired by senator Kauda Babar. The senator committee was briefed by the officials from the Ministry about what measures the government is intended to take and why. 

They explained to the committee that money laundering is a mutual concern for both, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). They told that the authorities are concerned about freelancers because they can be a big source of money laundering if kept unregistered. However, any incidents from the past were not quoted or highlighted. They are just worried that it can happen in the future.   

The members of the Senator Committee did not sound very satisfied with the measure. Though the concern of freelancers being used as a source of money laundering sounds justified, this measure will disadvantage them in many ways. The senators said that the government is supposed to facilitate freelancers but it is doing the opposite of it. They raised their concerns that it will bring problems for freelancers.

However, not all the senators sounded to be on one page. Some of them were agreeing to the benefits of the said measure. Senator Afnan Ullah Khan explained that similar objections have been raised by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) about the payments done to freelancers through international sources. He said that it can also give rise to terror financing if the freelancers stay unregistered. He suggested that all the payments should be officialized and documented and the relative departments should be brought into the loop so that there is no chance of illegal money transfers.  

The members of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication also briefed that the relative policy has been formed. One of the members, Syed Junaid Imam, said that the Ministry of Commerce has formulated the policy for the registration of freelancers and the possible methods of payment transfers.  

As discussed in the meeting, the policy will be submitted to the Ministry of Finance in the coming week by the Ministry of Commerce. After the examination from the Ministry, it will be presented to the federal cabinet. Moreover, another committee has been formed under the Finance Division that will look after the process of international payments and registration. It is also supposed to facilitate the gateways like PayPal that cannot be used in Pakistan till now.

The government is bringing such measures to end money laundering but the freelancers are not happy about it. Most of the freelancers of the country are students, some are doing it as part-time work, and some have it as the only source of income. On average, they do not earn big amounts so if it is subjected to taxes, it will further reduce their income. They are complaining that the government is not letting them survive and that a lot of deductions already happen before they receive their final amount. This sounds just like an additional burden to them. What is your point of view about it? 

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