ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Accountability Shehzad Akbar has clarified that the government cannot compromise on its core pledge of ensuring accountability of corrupt people.
Addressing a joint news conference with Communication Minister Murad Saeed, he said the new amendments in NAB Ordinance do not change bail or remand laws and they will continue to act against corrupt elements.
SAPM Shehzad Akhbar explained that one of the aims of bringing in the amendments was to address the clause of misuse of authority as someone should not be involved in a NAB case just for making a wrong decision.
Akbar said that cases in which government office holders have misused their authority for kickbacks fall within the scope of NAB’s investigations. However, he explained that in cases of assets beyond known sources of income, NAB can only probe a government official and not a common man who will be investigated by FBR.
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Shahzad Akbar said matters pertaining to federal or provincial taxation, levies or imposts will not fall under the jurisdiction of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and such cases will be handled by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). He clarified that the ordinance will remain in effect for a period not less than four months and up to eight months after which it will go to the parliament.
Similarly, the anti-graft watchdog will not scrutinise any person, entity or transaction which is not directly or indirectly connected with a public office holder. NAB can only take up cases involving corruption or corrupt practices exceeding an amount of Rs500 million.
He warned that there are three exceptions in implication a businessman. This includes if he cheats the public at large then the case will fall within NAB’s jurisdiction. Secondly, if there is criminal breach of trust by an ordinary man whereby he cheats someone out of money kept by them, then it will be dealt by NAB.
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The third exception is breach of trust in the capacity of merchant, attorney, bank or agent. These professionals will be held accountable by NAB if they deceive the public.
The Special Assistant said that the process of accountability will continue and the government is taking steps to revamp and strengthen institutions and to make them more powerful.
Speaking on the occasion, federal minister Murad Saeed said the government has stabilised country’s economy and 2020 will be the year of progress and development. He said Pakstan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government strengthened audit committees in the institutions to bring transparency and accountability in the system. He said Ehsaas Kifalat Program will be launched from 20th January to eradicate poverty from the country.