SA passes Accountability Bill 2017 with majority

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Murad criticises NAB ordinance
Staff Reporter

Karachi

Sindh Assembly passed the Accountability Bill 2017 with the clear cut majority. The Opposition rejected the Bill and walked out of the House afterward the treasury approved the Bill in its absence. The Bill will replace NAB laws.
After passing of the Bill titled Amended Anti-Corruption Bill 2017 the power to monitor the provincial accountability has been handed over to the Sindh Assembly, while the provincial selection committee headed by Speaker Sindh Assembly would also be established. If not agreed upon by the members of selection committee Speaker Sindh assembly would have the power to appoint the chairman and other members of the said selection committee.
The Bill was presented before the house by Senior Minister Sindh Nisar Khuhro.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah criticised the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 in his Sindh Assembly speech on Wednesday, vowing to press for the bill repealing the ordinance.
Earlier in the Sindh Assembly, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (Pakistan) lawmaker Faisal Subzwari had questioned the provincial government’s “mala fide” intention in passing the NAB Repeal Bill which, in his view, was an attempt to protect the corrupt.
Taking offence over Subzwari’s comments, the Sindh chief minister clarified that the government would have “no role in the appointment of a chairman” of the proposed accountability body. The chairman will be appointed by a committee consisting of three members, each from the treasury and opposition benches as well as the speaker, who will have the decisive vote in case of a dispute, said Shah.
He also took the opportunity to criticise the federal government for its inaction in certain cases.
The federal government has passed laws regarding NAB and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which enable them to prosecute the government’s own officers, he said, responding to the opposition’s concern that “the cat cannot be the protector of milk.”
“We should let the federal government pass laws for us and we should pass laws for them, or ask another country to pass laws for the country if your argument is to be accepted,” Shah argued.
The chief minister also criticised NAB policy of plea bargain and their operations. He claimed that a tractor company which was receiving subsidy from the government was involved in financial irregularities worth Rs1.5 billion but had received a “clean chit” from NAB. “It was only after we reopened the case after NAB closed it, that we found out,” he said. Criticising NAB Ordinance 1999, Shah said that the law was such that no one else could take up a case already taken up by NAB, which was problematic.
He also cited an accountability law passed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly as an argument supporting the Sindh government’s view that the assembly could legislate on the matter.
The opposition walked out of the house while the bill was being passed and announced that it would collectively take the issue to courts.
The National Accountability Ordinance 1999 Repeal Bill 2017, first passed on July 3, aims to repeal the applicability of the NAO in departments and autonomous bodies controlled by the provincial government. It was sent back to the assembly by governor Sindh who asked it to reconsider and discard the bill for being “repugnant to the provisions” of the NAO 1999 and the Constitution.

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