Pakistan

Govt presents revamped inquiry commission bill before NA

ISHAQ DAR

ISLAMABAD: The government has presented before the National Assembly a comprehensive inquiry commission bill for across-the-board accountability in the context of the Panama Papers and other accusations.

This was said by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar while addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Friday along with Law Minister Zahid Hamid.  The bill was approved by a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week.

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He said that the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Bill, 2016, which replaces the 1956 Inquiry Commission Act, will provide for constituting an empowered commission to probe into the allegations of write-off loans, offshore companies in Panama and other countries, kickbacks, and asset-making beyond the known sources of income.

He said all the 400 accused mentioned in Panama Papers will be held accountable under the new law which has been drafted with good intentions for a national service for decades to come.

Dar said the opposition did not sit with the government’s terms of reference team although the government repeatedly contacted the National Assembly speaker for the purpose.

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He said the opposition submitted a bill on the subject to the Senate Secretariat which was person-specific  having a limited approach and shows their irresponsible attitude in the parliament.

The opposition’s bill implies that it does not want to be part of the efforts to curb corruption but only wants to create hurdles in the way of the government’s working.

To a question, the Finance Minister said the government wanted to bring a consensus bill, but the opposition did not reciprocate to the government’s efforts which is still pursuing reconciliatory approach on the issue and had never closed the doors for negotiations.

He said the opposition’s negative politics based on allegations and sit-ins has already caused a heavy loss to the national economy.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid said the new proposed bill contains all the provisions of the 1956 Act and will allow for an empowered commission in the light of the Supreme Court’s observations.

He said the provincial governments will be supposed to cooperate with the commission, which could also seek assistance of the national institutions as well foreign inquiry agencies.

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