ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister and Chairman Laws Review Committee Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Monday said the government has decided to immediately promulgate the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance 2017.
The decision has been taken with approval of the prime minister and the federal cabinet, Under this law, corrupt officers/ officials will be disqualified for life from holding public office or from being a government servant.
“Under directions of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on January 05, 2017, the Laws Review Committee has examined and proposed amendments in Section 15 and substitution of Section 25 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 (NAO),” he said during a press conference at Punjab House in Islamabad.
Prior to the promulgation of the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, NAO contained provisions for voluntary return and plea bargain. The provision for voluntary return did not entail disqualification of a holder of public office or dismissal of a government servant who enters into voluntary return arrangements nor did it require approval of the Accountability Court.
The result was that a corrupt person who voluntarily returned the proceeds of corruption could continue to be a holder of public office or a government servant.
Earlier, the provision for plea bargain required approval of the court but disqualification to hold a public office was for a period of ten years only, a ministry of finance press release stated.
Accordingly, the Laws Review Committee has proposed certain amendments, the salient features of which are as follows:
(i) The provisions of voluntary return and plea bargain have been merged.
(ii) A voluntary return arrangement will now be subject to approval of the court, and will not be at the discretion of the chairman NAB.
(iii) The person entering into such arrangement shall be deemed to be convicted and;
(a) shall stand disqualified from being a holder of public office; and
(b) if in government service shall stand dismissed without any pecuniary benefits and shall not, thereafter, be eligible to hold public office.
(iv) A person convicted by the court for corruption and corrupt practices shall cease to hold public office and shall stand disqualified from being a holder of public office in future.
Upon promulgation of the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, the aforementioned amendments will become operative with immediate effect.
Furthermore, in accordance with unanimous motions passed by the National Assembly and Senate, the Speaker National Assembly in consultation with the Chairman, Senate and Leaders of the Parliamentary Parties has constituted a 20-member Parliamentary Committee comprising 13-MNAs and 07-Senators “to revisit the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and recommend necessary amendments therein”, said the press release.
The Committee is likely to commence its work in the week beginning January 09, 2017.
The finance minister at the presser was flanked by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid, Minister of State for IT & Telecom Anusha Rahman, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Khawaja Zaheer Ahmed and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Law Barrister Zafarullah Khan.