Companies Bill 2016 sails through lower house

House also passed a unanimous resolution expressing solidarity with the people of Occupied Kashmir

Qadeer Tanoli February 07, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The government has succeeded in getting a bill that envisages greater provisions for corporate transparency and due diligence passed by the National Assembly.

The Companies Bill, 2016 was among three bills that the lower house passed when it met on Monday after a two-day break. Other pieces of legislation included: the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill-2016 and the Pakistan Air Force (Amendment) Bill 2016.

In addition, the house also passed a unanimous resolution expressing solidarity with the people of Occupied Kashmir.

The opposition also staged a token walkout from the house to protest the assassination attempt on PPP president (southern Punjab) Shaukat Basra minutes before the session was adjourned.

Earlier, Law Minister Zahid Hamid moved the companies bill in the assembly.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, while delineating its salient features, said: “The bill has been drafted keeping in view best international practices and after taking feedback from all stakeholders.”

The new legislation would replace the Companies Ordinance, 1984, once it gets the presidential nod. The Senate has already passed the bill.

According to the statement of object and reasons attached with the draft, “The bill provides adequate safeguards against fraud, money laundering, terrorists’ financing”.

“It provides necessary instruments – including joint investigation and a provision requiring officers of a company to take adequate measures to curb such violations and report any suspicious transactions.”

The house also passed the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Pakistan Air Force (Amendment) Bill 2016.

The finance minister also informed the house that work was also underway on finalising electoral reforms. “The final report of the Committee on Electoral Reforms will be presented in the House during the next session.”

The house unanimously passed a resolution, expressing solidarity with the people of Occupied Kashmir “in their just struggle for the right to self-determination in lines with the United Nations Security Council resolutions”.

The joint resolution, moved by Minister for Kashmir Affair Barjees Tahir, called for extending “political, moral and diplomatic support” to the Kashmiris.

It rejected India’s claim that Kashmir was an integral part of India as “ridiculous”, stating “It was India that took the issue to the United Nations as a dispute between the two sovereign states”.

GSP+ status

Commerce Minister Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan informed the house that the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus (GSP+) status granted by the European Union to Pakistan would remain intact until December 31, 2023.

Speaking during question hour, the minister said: “The incentive is being provided for good governance and sustainable development.”

The minister said the trend in the exports was now picking up because the law and order situation in the country had considerably improved and added industry was also provided with uninterrupted supply of electricity and gas.

“In addition, an agriculture package has been announced for the farmers’ community and the momentum generated through such measures will help enhance the exports.”

The minister said farmers were provided better prices of their crops, particularly cotton and rice.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2017.