Put all lawmakers’ assets on EC website

IN a rather surprising move, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has rejected the plea of a parliamentary panel for placement of lawmakers’ statements of assets on its official website. Citing reason for this, the commission stated that parliamentary committee should get the relevant law amended if it wanted assets details on the ECP’s website.
Many, however, believe that statements of assets the lawmakers submit to the ECP every year are public documents in nature and hence there is no need for any legislation on the matter. The statements of assets and liabilities of parliamentarians for financial years 2013 and 2014 had been there on the commission’s website until recently, but were suddenly removed on April 15 at the height of Panama Papers controversy involving Pakistanis, including lawmakers, running offshore companies. Questions relating to massive wealth holdings of elected representatives as well as higher civil servants keep surfacing in our country with huge kickback allegations. Therefore, there is need to scrutinise these assets in order to do away with current confusion and controversy and also bring to task those who have ill-gotten money. Panama disclosures have further necessitated that those holding high government offices or sitting in Parliament should provide answers about their assets. It is a matter of shame that the word Pakistan has become synonymous in the outside world with corruption and lawlessness. We do often talk about image building of the country and we could do it very easily if menace of rampant corruption is totally eradicated. For bringing improvement in economic health, it is required that greater transparency is ensured in economic matters and check corruption that has deeply seeped into every fabric of society. The ECP should reconsider its decision and place asset details of the lawmakers on its website so that media and financial experts could do a comparative analysis of their earnings and expose corrupt practices.

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