Bribery, corruption mother of all evils; says NAB Chairman

KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry while addressing the officers at NAB at NAB Karachi during his visit to NAB Karachi Regional Bureau said that the father of the nation Quaid-e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan had termed “One of the biggest curses… is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put it down with an iron hand”.

The NAB Chairman said that corruption is not only a vice in its own right but it also triggers a chain reaction and leads to injustice and mistrust.

He said that National Accountability Bureau was established to fight and eradicate corruption in a holistic and integrated manner.

He said that this is the backdrop against with NAB is striving to accomplish its mission i.e. to rid the nation from corruption and corrupt practices. NAB is essentially a complaint driven organization. NAB operational methodology has set three stages for proceeding of cases complaint verification, inquiry and investigation. NAB’s personnel need to follow a strict Code of Conduct and zero tolerance policy against eradication of corruption.

He said that starting with the year 2014 which can be called basically a year of re invigoration of NAB, we have moved with new zeal and effort. Through detailed introspection and analysis of organizational weaknesses, overhaul of procedures and business processes, all pillars of the organization i.e. Operations, Prosecution, Human Resource Development and Awareness and Prevention have been reactivated. Organogram was revisited to transform NAB into a lean, efficient, and responsive organization.

The NAB Chairman said that to close the possibility of any single NAB officer/official influencing the discharge of official business, the concept of a “Combined Investigation Team” (CIT) was introduced where two investigation officers and a legal consultant are working as a team for a fair, transparent and unbiased, inquiry/ investigations.

To ensure objectivity and standardization across the board, the Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) were examined and revisited through a participative exercise spread over four months for up-gradation and implementation, added the NAB Chairman.

He said that these SOPs are placed on NAB’s website for convenience of all individuals interacting with NAB. He said that NAB has decided to fix time limit for each step of enforcement i.e. 2 months for Complaint Verification, four months for Inquiry & four months for Investigation. A total of 10 months have been laid down from start – to its logical conclusion as per law.

He said that NAB has been rejuvenated / reinvigorated. NAB has recovered Rs. 276 billion since its inception.

He said that NAB preamble emphasizes on recovery of looted money if accused is willing to return the same. The Voluntary Return (VR) in fact at the time of inquiry which is the initial stage of probing of a case. If the accused is willing to pay principal amount plus Kibor rate, he is within his rights under the law to do so. NAB evaluated his request with appropriate guarantees. The case is presented in the Regional or Central Executive Board for consideration and approval of the Chairman. If request is considered unsatisfactory, same is rejected and case is processed for further action.

He said that however, once the case has been upgraded to Investigation Stage and if the accused now makes the request to return ill gotten monies then it is called Plea Bargain.

He is required to pay the full determined amount plus Kibor Rate. His request for Plea Bargain will be submitted in respective accountability court for approval. Plea Bargain also has other implications as it is a deemed conviction. The accused will be debarred from holding a government servant will lose his job, public office, and a businessman will be debarred from obtaining loan facility from banks for 10 years.

It is re-emphasized that amount determined by NAB is non-negotiable and full amount is required to be paid by the accused. Therefore, the question regarding accommodating the accused to reduced payment against determined amount is not valid.

He said that an effective accountability mechanism is quintessential for economic growth, investment and stability of social order. The intervention by NAB has acted as a catalyst, as transparency is a prerequisite for promoting investment and economic growth. Since its inception, NAB had adopted the Enforcement based approach in its fight against corruption. Special focus is therefore being given to Awareness and Prevention activities besides Enforcement to educate the people at large about ill effects of corruption.

The NAB Chairman said that youth is the future of Pakistan; therefore NAB has laid special emphases on youth. 10 thousands Character Building Societies (CBS) have been set up in Universities and Colleges across the country to build an effective edifice against corruption. An MOU has been signed in October 2014 with Higher Education Commission in this respect.

He said that the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) is being upgraded in collaboration with Planning Commission of Pakistan to cater to the present day requirements. It is encouraging for NAB that for the first time Anti-Corruption has been made a part of development agenda in Pakistan in the context of Governance.

He said that the Planning Commission of Pakistan has included a chapter devoted to issues of corruption in the 11th five year plan and we intend to work closely with Planning Commission of Pakistan to achieve the goals set in the 11th five years plan for eradication of corruption.

Qamar Zaman Chaudhry said that fighting corruption is a challenging task. Serious efforts to combat corruption have been started with this realization that it is our collective social responsibility; that it would result in common good and that we all are together in this war and we will rise and fall together.

He said that NAB is determined to corruption free Pakistan and we the citizens of Pakistan refuse to tolerate or accept corruption as a way of life.

He said, “I call upon every single member of the society to make an effort by setting our personal, professional and official conduct above any type of influence and prejudice. I directed all officers of NAB to adopt and demonstrate absolute fairness and transparency in discharge of their national duties.”

He further said, “I call upon the intelligentsia, the academia and media to sensitize the people about the adverse impact of corruption on our society and economy.”

He urged all segments of society to join hands with NAB in its country wide campaign launched for awareness about eradication of corruption by saying “Say no to corruption”.

At the end, Chairman NAB, appreciated the performance of NAB Karachi under the supervision of DG NAB Karachi Col ® Siraj ul-Naeem. He said that DG NAB Karachi’s performance remained excellent during his stay at NAB Karachi. The officers/officials of NAB Karachi are very much aware of their national duties and are working day and night to eradicate corruption and contribute in the overall performance of NAB as an institution.

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