Consensus, parleys part of democracy


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said decisions in democracy are made with mutual consultation and therefore changes in the NAB rules will be presented in parliament.

The premier conceded that amendment in the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, was a tough decision but it had to be made in the interest of the country.

Addressing a gathering of senior civil servants here Thursday, the prime minister claimed that the decision was difficult because a party that has had a 22-year-long struggle for accountability and is considered strict and is viewed to have this mission is under greater scrutiny. He reminded that a lot of criticism has been made on account of it, including by the opposition.

“But it was not easy because we had to carry our party too and in a democracy you need to develop a consensus within the party and its leadership,” he said. He claimed that the real aim of the government is wealth creation, so the country which is buried under the burden of loans can be freed of it.

The prime minister recalled that in the last 10 years, Pakistan has mounted a debt of Rs24 trillion. “It was Rs6 trillion but from 2008-2018 it rocketed to Rs30 trillion. Half of the tax we collected last year was spent on interest payments. The key right now is wealth creation in the country,” he said.

Imran Khan was of the view that wealth creation will take place when there is industrialisation in the country, when its agricultural output increases and when the housing scheme brought in by the PTI, along with its 40 associated industries, takes off. He said industrialisation will also help create jobs.

"For that, our governance system needs to be streamlined, so decisions can be made expediently,” he said, adding that decisions weren’t being made due to fear of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The prime minister stressed on improving governance for economic stabilisation in the country. The prime minister said the NAB’s fear curtailed the role of bureaucracy in development projects. He said themain purpose of the NAB Ordinance was to insulate bureaucracy from NAB’s fear and make business easier.

The prime minister said the government has stabilised the country’s economy and now efforts are being made to accelerate economic growth. He said 2020 will be the year of growth and development and development is not possible without wealth creation. "Concerns were legitimate because so many were probed over procedural mistakes. So we realised we will need to take this step and offer bureaucrats protection, as well as the business community,” he said.

Imran Khan said that the business community does not fall within the purview of NAB because the very definition of corruption is using public office for private gain. He said that if one reads the amendment, it simply provides for NAB to not interfere in their business dealings. “And the tax cases are FBR’s as it is. They have nothing to do with NAB,” he said.

The premier said he has tried to convince the NAB chairman about amendments to remove impediments to business and governance. It would be pertinent to mention that the government has brought about drastic changes in the country’s accountability law through the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 under a presidential ordinance that was promulgated on December 27. Under the ordinance, the powers of NAB were curtailed keeping in view frequent complaints of the civil servants and the business community.