Govt, opposition meet today to forge consensus on NAB law

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ISLAMABAD: The government and opposition will meet on Monday to forge consensus on the National Accountability (second amendment) Ordinance, 2019.

On Dec 27, President Dr. Arif Alvi had promulgated an ordinance making significant changes to the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 to give maximum protection to the bureaucracy and business community.

However, the opposition said that NAB laws should not be amended through an ordinance. In order to take opposition, which enjoys a majority in the Senate, into confidence the government has started negotiations to reach consensus on the bills.

“We are meeting for the second time on the NAB bill on Monday,” said Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry when contacted by Dawn.

He said the other bills, which were not opposed by the opposition on Jan 10, had been passed unanimously. “We hope that the NAB bill will also be passed in the same manner after it is prepared in the light of the government-opposition’s agreement on the document.”

Asked NAB was not happy about the move to further clip its powers, the minister said: “I have no idea about this. Let’s see what happens.”

It has been observed that after the smooth sailing of eight bills, including three bills about the tenure of the services chiefs, by parliament, the government and the opposition have agreed to build consensus for legislation on other important matters, including “controversial” powers of NAB.

Mr. Chaudhry said the second round of talks between the government and the opposition will take place in the chamber of National Assembly Spea­ker Asad Qaiser in the Parliament House to forge consensus on the National Accountability [second amendment] Ordinance, 2019.

He said it was a good sign that the members of the treasury and opposition benches were sitting together to resolve pending issues. “The two sides will try to make unanimous ­legislation on NAB.”

The National Assembly on Friday passed the Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill, 2019; Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill, 2019; Legal Aid and Justice Authority Bill, 2019; Superior Courts (Court Dress and Mode of Address) Bill, 2019 and Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Bill, 2019.

However, the National Account­ability (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Benami Transaction (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will be laid before the lower house after the government and opposition reached consensus.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had said the new NAB ordinance would “insulate the business community” from the anti-graft watchdog’s ­scrutiny.

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