ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has promulgated the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 barring the anti-corruption watchdog from acting against the business community.
The new law offers more protection to public office-holders or government officials while at the same time excludes several financial sectors. Under the Ordinance, inquiries and investigations shall stand transferred to the respective authorities or departments which administer the relevant laws of taxation, levies or imposts in question.
Trials shall stand transferred from the relevant Accountability Courts to the criminal courts which deal with offences under the respective laws pertaining to taxation, levies or imposts in question. The trials will also stand transferred from the relevant accountability courts to the criminal courts which deal with offences under the respective laws.
No action under the ordinance shall be taken against any holder of public office unless it is shown that the holder of public office has materially benefited by gaining any asset or monetary benefit which is disproportionate to his known sources of income.
The ordinance also made it mandatory for NAB to obtain approval of a scrutiny committee, comprising NAB chairman, cabinet secretary, SECP chairman, FBR chief, and a law ministry representative, before acting against any government official.
It said that NAB would not seize property of government officials without orders of the court. The NAB jurisdiction over matters relating to tax, stock exchange and Intellectual Property Organisations has also been curtailed.
Under the ordinance, NAB officials have been barred from giving statements to the media on an inquiry or investigation before the filing of formal reference. NAB can only take up cases involving corruption or corrupt practices exceeding an amount of Rs500 million.