In an unprecedented move, the federal cabinet on Wednesday agreed to a proposal that will require all officials drawing salaries from the national exchequer to declare their assets – which will include military officials, judges of the higher judiciary, and high-ranking bureaucrats.
Parliamentarians are already required to show all their assets on an annual basis – but this practice will now extend to government servants and all those who are on the payroll of the state.
The proposal was initiated back in 2011. On Wednesday, a meeting of the federal cabinet took up the proposal, and, after accepting it, put the matter in the hands of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. The matter will now go into legislation before becoming law.
When asked, the information minister said that the government will soon introduce legislation in this regard.
“In my point of view, if all politicians have to declare their assets, everyone should disclose their assets,” said Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira while briefing the media after attending the cabinet meeting. When asked whether judges and generals would also have to disclose their assets, he said, “If legislation is passed in this regard, no one is above the law.”
Commenting on the rumours of dissent within the party regarding the writing of a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against the president, Kaira said, “Difference of opinion cannot be ruled out, but there cannot be any difference over a decision made by the party’s leadership.”
He said that the PPP leadership was worried where the country would stand if another prime minister was sacked, and added that, in case this happens, the decision on whether the move would be resisted or not will be taken at the next party meeting.
Kaira said that the cabinet committee on Balochistan also presented its interim report on the law and order situation in the province after holding consultations with various stakeholders in Quetta‚ Karachi and Islamabad, but it had requested further time to finalise its recommendations.
The prime minister also directed the federal cabinet to prepare for elections as the polls neared.
Prime Minster Raja Pervaiz Ashraf told the meeting that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) believes in free‚ fair and impartial elections, and added that, after providing an ‘appropriate environment’ for elections, PPP will accept the results whichever political party wins.
Later, the information minister also reiterated that government’s commitment to holding elections on schedule.
The cabinet meeting was also briefed about the energy crisis and steps taken to mitigate issues faced by the concerned authorities. During the meeting, recommendations of a parliamentary committee on the matter were also discussed.
The cabinet was informed that, in the first 12 days of August last year, power generation was 14,274 MW whereas it was 14,306 MW during the same period this year. Water and power secretary said day-time electricity production was 13,250 MW, which increases to 14,300 MW in the evening, adding that hydel production during day time was 5,000 MW and 6,100 MW in the evening.
A special cabinet session will be held after Eidul Fitr to take up the energy crisis.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2012.