Govt defends NAB law changes as Opp cries foul

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai
ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar on Sunday lamented the opposition parties for criticizing the recently promulgated National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance. Addressing a press conference along with Federal Minister for Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed, Shahzad Akbar said that that the government will lay the NAB second amendment ordinance of 2019 in the upcoming sitting of National Assembly. “The economy was in ICU and now it is out of it and moving towards growth,” he said adding that incumbent government is working hard to make FIA effective institution. Clarifying amendments made in the NAB ordinance, Shahzad Akbar said opposition criticizing NAB ordinance without reading it. He said that no one in the government would be able to get personal benefits from the new NAB ordinance.
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. Shahzad Akbar said matters pertaining to Federal or Provincial taxation, levies or imposts will not fall under the ambit of NAB and such cases will be handled by the Federal Board of Revenue. Similarly, the watchdog will not scrutinize any person or entity, or transaction in relation thereto, who or which are not directly or indirectly connected with a holder of public office. Speaking on the occasion, Murad Saeed said the government has stabilized country’s economy and 2020 will be the year of progress and development.
Murad Saeed said Ehsaas Kifalat Program will be launched from 20th of next month to eradicate poverty from the country. According to the amended law, the NAB could not freeze the properties of government employees without a court order. If NAB fails to complete investigation against a suspect within three months, the accused will be entitled to bail, the law said. The anti-graft watchdog’s jurisdiction over matters relating to imports and levy has been curtailed in the amended law. As per the new ordinance, NAB will now only be able to proceed in corruption cases of Rs500 million and more. Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan in a series of tweets on Sunday termed PML-N’s playing politics on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Amendment Ordinance, 2019 unfortunate. She said Prime Minister Imran Khan is squeaky clean, due to which he doesn’t fear accountability. The country’s top court declared him “Sadiq and Amin,” she said, adding even the worst of his enemies failed to accuse him of any financial wrongdoing and will remain so. Firdous Ashiq Awan said PM Khan’s Jihad against corruption is continuing vigoursly. NAB’s duty is to take action against mega corruption scandals, which it would do with more powers, she added.