Govt to amend accountability law to avoid harassment

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The task force will work on improving the system to ensure fair practices, clear jurisdictions and scope as well as improvement in conviction rate. PHOTO: FILE
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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to amend the accountability law in an attempt to keep a suitable check on corruption cases in order to avoid unnecessary harassment.

The development comes in the backdrop of several multinational companies wrapping up operations in Pakistan and filing cases in international courts against corruption investigation initiated by the anti-corruption watchdog.

Several of these companies have won cases and have claimed billions of dollars in damages from Pakistan government.

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Under the reforms, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would have to prove guilty an accused before arrest which will stop harassment of businessmen, politicians and bureaucrats.

During tenures of past governments, NAB had been used as a political tool to harass businessmen, politicians and multinational companies.

Also Read: Cigarette firms have improved sales, pay less tax: NAB report

The new PTI government has constituted a task force with a mandate to reform the NAB law in order to turn the bureau into an institution that is more focused and effective in dealing with mega corruption scandals with suitable checks and balances.

Under the reforms, the government will also place certain checks and controls on NAB officials to prevent them from misusing their powers against businessmen, politicians, companies and bureaucrats.

The task force will work on improving the system to ensure fair practices, clear jurisdictions and scope as well as improvement in conviction rate.

NAB would be bound to focus on the recovery of public money and mega corruption cases.

According to the terms of reference of the task force, transparency and certainty in NAB’s decision-making, structuring or elimination of discretion and arrest only after being proven guilty will be ensured.

NAB will be bound not to take any unlawful action and all its actions should be against those involved in corruption and having assets beyond means.

Also Read: ‘Accountability process has commenced in Sindh’

The task force will also work on the conflict of multiple jurisdictions, money threshold of NAB cases which is applicable in mega corruption cases and capacity building of NAB to investigate white-collar crimes.

The task force comprises federal minister for law and justice as chairman, federal secretary law, parliamentary secretary for law, attorney general, chairman or deputy chairman of NAB and prosecutor general of NAB.

The chairman of the task force can invite any other person to become a member of the task force.

Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability, has also been made member of the task force.

(This news/article originally appeared in The Express Tribune on September 8th, 2018)

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