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Next month, online land record services tailored for expatriates will be introduced

The technical and operational specifics have been concluded. The services will be provided through international embassies and consulates. The initiative is set to commence in Saudi Arabia, with subsequent expansion to other countries.

ISLAMABAD: The government has concluded the technical and operational aspects for offering online digital land record services to overseas Pakistanis via their foreign missions. The program is scheduled to be officially launched next month, commencing in Saudi Arabia, in an effort to draw in foreign investments.

The upcoming initiative aims to extend its reach to nations with significant Pakistani expatriate communities, including the UAE, US, and UK, over the coming months. Following this, the program will also be introduced in Spain, Italy, Canada, and more. This collaborative effort, spearheaded by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis (MOP) and Punjab Land Revenue Authority (PLRA), in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The purpose of this initiative is to encourage investments and remittances from overseas Pakistanis, fostering economic growth and strengthening ties between the country and its diaspora.

To enhance the accessibility of land record services for overseas Pakistanis using technology, a proposal suggests providing these services through community welfare attach√© offices in Pakistani embassies and consulates in countries with significant Pakistani expatriate populations (such as the USA, UK, UAE, and Saudi Arabia). The proposed services include issuing copies of the record of rights (including for transactional purposes), electronic Girdawari, electronic registered deed, and mutation entry, as well as attestation of mutation and registration of deeds through the e-registration system. This information was presented in a working paper shared with the Prime Minister’s Office.

Over the weekend, a meeting of stakeholders, led by Secretary Overseas Pakistanis Dr. Arshad Mehmood and partially attended by the Ministry for Overseas Pakistanis, represented by Chaudhry Salik Hussain, finalized the technical and financial details. These details included process flows, related gadgets, fee and tax structures, and more. Mr. Hussain suggested that Spain, Italy, the US, Canada, and England should be part of the initial phase following the launch from Saudi Arabia.

Under the agreement between the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis (MOP) and the Pakistan Labor and Real Estate Agents (PLRA), 70% of the service charges would be allocated to the PLRA, responsible for providing most of the technical arrangements, including those in foreign missions. The remaining 30% would be the MOP’s share. In addition to existing government fees and taxes, overseas Pakistanis will be provided with copies of Fard, mutation, deed, or Girdawari at foreign missions for an extra fee of Rs. 10,000 each. Similarly, mutation entry and deed registration services will be charged at Rs. 20,000 per transaction.

The meeting finalized the service-level agreement (SLA) among stakeholders, covering all aspects of the transactions, such as geographic, operational, legal, financial settlement, and related issues. The attendees expressed satisfaction with the preparedness of the involved agencies.

It was acknowledged that PLRA has extensive experience in the industry, making them legally and technically well-prepared. However, the main challenge lies in expanding the embassy’s role within the value chain. PLRA offers land record services through 151 Arazi record centers, 59 Qanoon-i-Arazi record centers, and 20 mobile Arazi record centers across Punjab. These services are also accessible to citizens at Dehi Marakaz Maals, along with limited services through Nadra centers, E-Khidmat Marakaz, and banks via the Centralised Land Record Management Information System (CLRMIS).

To enhance operational efficiency, the CLRMIS facility will be extended to Pakistani missions abroad, and electronic copies of registered deeds will be made available through the PULSE portal for registered deeds, as already implemented in Punjab.

The working paper highlighted that overseas Pakistanis face numerous issues, such as fraud, impersonation, and adverse possession, concerning land management tasks like land sale and purchase. They incur significant financial costs and the inconvenience of traveling to Pakistan for land-related transactions. Alternatives to physical visits (like power of attorney) are also risky and often lead to fraud, causing substantial losses and additional psychological and financial stress for overseas Pakistanis.

The proposed services will cater to various scenarios, such as when both parties are abroad, one party is overseas, or there are multiple buyers or sellers, with one or more of them being overseas.

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