KARACHI: Mohammad Altaf Bawany, Director General of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Sindh on Thursday said that any illegal money whitened under any amnesty scheme the bureau has right to investigate the source.
Speaking at a seminar on ‘Role of Business Community in Curbing the Menace of Corruption’, he said amnesty scheme which was being introduced for recovery of taxes but if the income has been earned from illegal means, NAB has the right to take action against such individuals.
He informed that plea bargain is only carried out by NAB to recover funds which saves individuals from being sent to jail but they are considered as offenders who simply cannot hold any government for a period of 10 years and they also remain deprived from availing any financing from banks.
While referring to a recent international research study, stated that the research report revealed that corruption raises the cost of doing business by 10 percent in many countries around the world but in Pakistan’s case, this corruption raises the cost of doing business by at least 20 percent.
“All of us are somehow responsible for rising corruption in the country as we give bribe to the officers in order to get the work done at the earliest. Unfortunately in Pakistan, laws exists to deal with bribe seekers but no law has been devised so far to deal with bribe givers.”
Altaf Bawany advised that any honest businessman should not be scared after receiving summon from NAB which must immediately be responded. NAB takes action only when the individual fails to respond to the summon notices which are sent thrice by the Bureau prior to taking action.
Highlighting the functioning of the Bureau, he informed that NAB takes strict action against its own officers who are involved in any corruption or malpractice. In this regard, 35 officers have been expelled from NAB, of which many are still in jail.
Chairman BMG & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, in his remarks, stated that the honesty and truthfulness in front of everyone including the Prime Minister, the President or anyone else has led to the success of Businessmen Group which has been constantly winning KCCI’s election since last two decades.
Siraj Teli said, “Anyone approaching KCCI for help is fully assisted by the Office Bearers but, NAB must also understand that even if a leading businessman attempts to seek KCCI’s help for anything wrong or illegal, we never support such individuals. During all these years, we have never supported any thief or dishonest individual but have always fought for those who were facing genuine issues. As long as the Businessman Group stays in control of Karachi Chamber, we will never support any dishonest element.”
“Public Service and truthfulness have always been the first and foremost policy of Businessmen Group which is the only way to resolve all types of issues but unfortunately in our country, nobody dares to speak the truth and do not bothers to look beyond his personal interests, resulting in ruining the very fabric of our society”, Chairman BMG added while underscoring the need to be truthful and honest in order to pull the country out of ongoing crisis.
Referring to the amendments being made by the bureaucrats and policymakers, Siraj Teli said that these amendments are made to gain personal benefits whereas the taxation policies are devised in such a manner to harass the business and industrial community in order to earn as much as possible. Most of the laws devised are not for correcting the nation but to make sure that they get maximum money in their pockets by harassing and squeezing the business and industrial community through massive discretionary powers granted to FBR during the last five years.
He requested DG NAB to take the business and industrial community on board whenever NAB is dealing with issues related to any businessman or industrialist. “We don’t want 100 percent involvement but NAB has to be sure that they are doing the right thing and must ensure that no injustice is done to any honest person. NAB is free to take action against any dishonest businessman or industrialist but relevant information and evidence should be shared with Karachi Chamber and if these evidence are not deniable, the Karachi Chamber will stand along with NAB against such dishonest businessman or industrialist”, he added.
He also advised DG NAB to hold discussions with all the Chambers and Trade Associations across the province to identify the issues whereas maximum benefit of doubt should be extended to the business community in NAB cases.
Commenting on money laundering and amnesty scheme, he said that 90 percent of the funds sent abroad by the business community are their personal funds taken from their own business concerns. Their only fault is that they have sent these funds abroad to evade income tax which is illegal but these funds are purely extracted from their personal businesses whereas the Bureaucrats and Politicians have been sending the looted money abroad by misusing powers from the Public Offices. “I am not in favor of amnesty scheme as it is like punishing those honest taxpayers who continued to pay taxes, worked honestly and abided all the laws throughout their lives”, he said, adding that Amnesty Scheme was just an attempt to pave way and facilitate thieves and dishonest who had looted billions of rupees.
Earlier, President KCCI Muffasar Atta Malik, in his welcome address, pointed out that the latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) has ranked Pakistan 117th out of 180 with India being at 81st rank. “It is very unfortunate to be at such a low rank and even more depressing because this is an Islamic Republic founded after a long freedom struggle involving unmatched sacrifices of lives and wealth”, he added.
He underscored the need to minimize human to human interaction by fostering technology orientation in the public and private sectors which would serve to minimize corruption, while also enabling accurate monitoring of the relevant departments.
Muffasar Malik also stressed the need to make Anti-corruption laws strict enough to instill fear within ranks of corrupt officials. They should be sure of serious consequences if they get involved in corrupt practices or any other misdoing. The public should be made aware of the laws and their rights through media campaigning.
The legal system should ensure that it imparts justice without prejudice and that the procedure should be easy, effective and inexpensive. In fact, there is great need of strengthening the system through automation in the entire judicial chain, he added.