Published Date: Jul 25, 2017
In Pakistan, laws are made to hide things rather than make them public
Accountability simply cannot happen without transparency, but will for accountability is also very important. Unfortunately, in Pakistan laws are made to hide things rather than make them public, said MNA Asad Umar on Monday.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader was speaking to participants of a seminar titled ‘Accountability and Transparency: Embodied Access to Information Model’, which was hosted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
He said that after the general elections in May 2013, the first thing he got involved in was the Right to Information Bill as he believed that was the most important issue.
“If we open up governance [to scrutiny, people watching over the process] will make things better and will also reduce chances of malpractice,” he said.
RTI regime was deliberately made inaccessible to hide irregularities, says Asad Umar
“Information about how much is spent on the procurement of goods for government offices is not shared. If this information is shared online, everyone will be able to check and ask about inflated prices. This data is made available online in real time in developed countries,” he added.
Mr Asad said the system was deliberately made inaccessible to ensure no one looked into irregularities.
“Teacher attendance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa increased due to the use of biometric systems, data from which was uploaded online and this also lead to an increase in student attendance,” he said.
Talking about the PML-N and accountability, the MP said three years ago, he had tabled a bill calling for all parliamentarians to be made accountable and that their assets should be audited.
“The bill could not be discussed in the National Assembly for six months after which I had to request Imran Khan to raise the issue and the bill was finally moved to the standing committee. But 70pc of the standing committee’s members were from the PML-N and I was told that the motive of the bill was to embarrass parliamentarians and the bill was rejected,” he said.
“Pakistani’s collectively own Rs800 billion worth of property in Dubai and for the last nine months, I have been trying to start an audit of that property, but no one is interested in doing so,” he said.
Mr Asad said laws were sufficient for stopping corruption as the joint investigation team had obtained so much information in 60 days without having new laws introduced.
However, he said, having a will for accountability is also very important.
Financial management expert Abdul Jalil said the absence of relevant laws and a lack of legal precedent are the major hurdles in ensuring accountability and transparency.
He said institutions including the Federal Board of Revenue and the Federal Investigation Agency were handicapped when investigating financial regularities and the legal framework for audits was deficient.
He explained that in some matters related to financial irregularities, the FIA was dependent on inspectors who were not qualified for financial investigations.
SDPI representative Shakeel Ahmed Ramay said there was a need for understanding that accountability was not punishment.
“It is a process to see if a person has performed and fulfilled his duties. However, society needs to be more mature as 40pc of doctors and lawyers do not pay income tax in Pakistan,” he said.Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1347385/in-pakistan-laws-are-made-to-hide-things-rather-than-make-them-public