Calling for reforms in international financial institutions dealing with illicit transactions, Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the “haven” countries to immediately and unconditionally return all foreign assets that are shown to be stolen or whose “legitimacy” cannot be explained. The Prime Minister said this while addressing the virtual launch event of the Final Report of the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for achieving the 2030 Development Agenda on Thursday. Imran Khan said the UN should initiate various steps, including negotiations on the new international tax cooperation and anti- money laundering legal instruments. He called for the establishment of a UN Coordination, Adjudication and Mediation mechanism on illicit financial flows. He said that Pakistan will work actively with all like-minded countries to realise these vital objectives. The Prime Minister endorsed the Panel’s proposals, which include application of international “values” of honesty and integrity to all financial transactions, strengthening policy frameworks and reforming relevant institutions dealing with these illicit financial flows. He said national and cross-border financial transactions should be regulated under a “values-based” system, encompassing accountability, transparency, legitimacy, fairness, inclusion and equity. He said global financial governance must improve and policies on illicit flows must be implemented in a coordinated and coherent way by national and international institutions and bodies. He said international bodies dealing with tax matters, corruption and illicit financing should not be used as instruments of pressure and coercion against developing countries. Imran Khan said that the magnitude of the illicit financial flows is staggering and can have a transformational impact on the development prospects of the developing countries if returned. He said that recovery of stolen assets will enable the developing countries to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, build back better after the Covid-19 crisis, address climate change and strengthen human rights. The Prime Minister said $7 trillion in stolen assets are parked in the financial “haven” countries. He said the flight of these vast resources from the developing countries is a principal cause of their under-development, poverty, inequality and politics. The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction over incorporating his proposals in the Final Report of the Panel. These suggestions include immediate return of stolen assets, penalties on the financial institutions, lawyers and accountants, and other “enablers” of corruption, crime and tax evasion, disclosure of the “beneficial ownership” of companies, review and revision of unequal investment treaties and a coherent mechanism for monitoring illicit financial flows set up under the United Nations (UN). Essential items Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed to formulate a comprehensive plan to meet the future needs and any emergency situation with regard to prices and availability of essential items in sufficient quantity. Chairing a review meeting on Thursday regarding prices and availability of essential items, the Prime Minister said that strict legal measures should be taken against hoarders and profiteers. The Prime Minister asserted that efforts should be made to avoid any additional burden on the poor people. He also emphasised on strengthening inter-provincial coordination to end disparity in prices of essential items. Imran Khan instructed to utilise information technology in shifting agricultural produce from field to market to make the procedure more transparent so that both farmers and consumers can get best prices. He advised to increase the number of godowns for the storage of edible items on modern lines.