ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top anti-graft body chief is aptly elated at the country’s positive improvement in Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranking. He attributes it to the initiatives taken by his organisation in curbing the menace.
“Pakistan’s ranking in Transparency International (TI) report has reached 117 from 126 and it will further strengthen our resolve as a nation against corruption and corrupt practices,” National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry said.
The bureau is committed to eradicating corruption from the country, he told Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), a state-run news agency on Wednesday.
He said “it is quite satisfactory and a great achievement for the bureau that Pakistan positively improved nine points in CPI 2015” because of the hard work of his organisation, its employees and other relevant institutions.
Pakistan’s position has improved as compared to other South Asia countries, he said, adding that the ranking of other regional countries remained the same or dropped.
Answering a question, Chaudhry said, “Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies; it undermines development and rule of law.”
Awareness and prevention of corruption are challenging tasks. Considering these facts, he said NAB had chalked out a comprehensive National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) for the eradication of corruption and corrupt practices.
The bureau recovered over Rs266 billion since its inception and deposited in national exchequer which is a great achievement.
The allocation to NAB for its operational work is Rs10.111 billion since its inception which is only 3.7% of recoveries made by NAB.
He said NAB has received 300,009 complaints, authorized 6,662 and 3,391 investigations, filed 2,451 corruption references in accountability courts since its inception.
The chairman said the increase in the number of complaints also reflects public trust in the bureau. To create awareness of the ill effects of corruption among the youth, NAB established over 10,000 character building societies (CBSs) in universities, colleges and schools.
He especially mentioned standard operating procedures (SOPs) which have been revised to rationalise workload while timelines have been prescribed for efficient, effective and expeditious disposal of cases putting a maximum limit of 10 months from complaint verification to inquiry to investigation and finally to a reference in court.
He said the SOPs were made responsive to needs of changed economic, social and technological realities along with goals and targets for smooth conduct of operational activities in accordance with law and to bring further improvements in the performance of regional bureaus.
He said the bureau has introduced the concept of combined investigation team and internal accountability mechanism.
The bureau has established its first forensic science lab, proposed Whistle Blowing Protection Act which is imperative under UN Convention Against Corruption.
The prime minister has approved Whistle Blower Protection Bill which will now be sent to the cabinet for necessary action.
The chairman said under its awareness and prevention campaign, NAB has been engaging different governmental and non-governmental organizations and civil society in the fight against corruption and initiated ‘Say No to Corruption’ drive.
Chaudhry said he believed in a zero tolerance policy against corruption and expressed the hope that
joint efforts of all stakeholders against this menace would prove to be successful in making Pakistan a corruption-free country.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2016.