Anti-graft report get Senate panel’s nod

Standing committee on law and justice approves corrective proposals

Azam Khan September 21, 2015


A parliamentary panel has approved a report recommending several anti-corruption initiatives such as modifying primary school syllabus and installing closed-circuit cameras at government offices.

The report was presented in the upper house of parliament by the standing committee on law and justice. The panel was headed by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi with senators Aitzaz Ahsan, Zahida Khan, Salim Zia and Saeed Ghani as members.

The committee backed the recommendation for setting up a parliamentary oversight body for implementation of the suggestions, whereby the government should incorporate anti-corruption themes in the curriculum from Class I to X at the national level to educate the youth against this menace.

Aliya Rashid, once the unbeaten tennis champion of Pakistan, finalised the set of recommendations on structural reforms for eradication of corruption particularly from government departments.

She was assigned by the parliamentary panel to suggest measures to fight corruption in her role as the director-general of the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) awareness and prevention department.

Aliya suggested that parliamentary oversight was necessary against corruption particularly in the judiciary and military affairs.

The report also criticised NAB regarding its inability to audit powerful institutions. An accountability agency to operate successfully must possess committed political backing at the highest government levels, it was stated.

Aliya believed NAB fell short of the ‘required mandate’. The transparency of NAB’s prosecution has increasingly been questioned for being selective. “Excesses of the military and the judiciary have by and large been ignored by the bureau,” she wrote.

In some isolated cases, NAB’s investigation methods have also been reported in the national press as violation of the standard rights norms. These perceptions need to be rectified, if the accountability process is to gain credibility and transparency, the proposal draft read.

“There is a need to revamp regulatory bodies first where a lot of corruption takes place,” Aliya told the parliamentary committee. “We can deal with this menace by curbing practices of tax evasion, improving the health sector, controlling spurious medicines and reformations in pharmaceutical evolutions and registration.”

The report also suggested reforms in drug licensing, quality assurance, laboratory testing and reformation for procurement of syringes and vaccines. Hajj reforms are also needed and computerised asset declaration mechanism in the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) needs to be introduced.

Aliya also requested the lawmakers to play their role in passing the whistleblower act, which has been currently pending before the cabinet for four months. She also proposed effective right to information laws enhancing transparency and accountability.

The report suggested that all public institutions and departments should introduce transparent systems by promoting paperless environment. All information relevant to the general public should be displayed on official websites to provide access to information.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st,  2015.


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