Senate passes bill to counter money launder, terror financing

Military-run NLC gets legal cover after 40 years n PPP raises objection over proposal to conduct elections on new census

ISLAMABAD  -  The Senate yesterday passed a bill to set up a new authority to counter money laundering and terror financ­ing amid opposition from a number of Senators. The Bill was approved by the National Assembly the other day.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar tabled the bill, ti­tled “National Anti-Money Launder­ing and Counter Financing of Terror­ism Authority Bill” in the Senate.

According to the draft, the pro­posed authority, to be headed by a chairman, will consist of federal sec­retaries for finance, foreign affairs and interior; the State Bank of Paki­stan governor; chairpersons of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, National Accountability Bureau, and Federal Board of Reve­nue; directors general of the Federal Investigation Agency, Anti Narcotics Force and Financial Monitoring Unit; national coordinator of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nac­ta); and chief secretaries of all four provinces, Azad Kashmir and Gilg­it-Baltistan. According to the new legislation, the proposed authority can convene meetings on the requi­sition of the chairman or half of its members. Not only did the opposi­tion parties — Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — express concerns, but rul­ing parties’ lawmakers Raza Rabba­ni, Tahir Bizenjo, and Kamran Murta­za also opposed it. They maintained that hasty legislation would have far-reaching effects and demanded that lawmakers be given time to re­view the bills. In her defence, Minis­ter of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar — who moved the bill in the upper house — said the bill has already been approved in the Na­tional Assembly. “Under this bill, we will establish an authority [to count­er terror financing],” she said, with Pakistan Peoples Party leader Yousaf Raza Gillani saying the legislation was of crucial importance.

Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar told the house that the fed­eral government had given the FATF its future plan when it removed Pa­kistan from its grey list — on ways to counter terror financing.

Pakistan was listed in 2018 be­cause of “strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies”. PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz said it is impos­sible for lawmakers to read 12 bills in a day and demanded that they “not be made a rubber stamp legislature”.

The Senate also passed the Nation­al Logistics Corporation Bill, with the majority of vote, which seeks to give legal cover to the military-run Na­tional Logistics Cell (NLC) after a pe­riod of over 40 years.

Opposition benches opposed the bill soon after the house passed it through a voice vote. On this, Chair­man Senate Muhammad Sadiq San­jrani ruled that the house has already passed the proposed law. The Na­tional Assembly has already passed the bill. Before moving the motion in the house to consider the bill at once, Minister for Law Azam Nazeer Tarar giving background of the pro­posed law said that the NLC was es­tablished by military ruler Gener­al Ziaul Haq through a presidential notification and its total control was with the Pakistan Army. “The NLC ex­panded its operations with the pas­sage of time but the organization was being run on the basis of the Pres­idential order,” he added. Senator Tarar informed the house that the bill sought to place NLC under the administrative control of the federal government and the Ministry of Plan­ning would be its in-charge ministry. He said that the federal government would constitute its board and the prime minister has the authority to appoint its senior management. He told the lawmakers that federal and provincial governments could direct the NLC to work during disasters to rehabilitate roads and bridges. He also said the request of the orga­nization to exempt it from govern­ment taxes had been rejected except in case of its work during natural di­sasters. Responding to the criticism of an opposition lawmaker, the law minister said that every army of the world used to have its own logistic cell. He added that NLC would carry out all logistics of the Pakistan Army in peace and war on a no profit basis. He also said that the NLC supervisory board would be dominated by secre­taries of different federal ministries, among others, and not the Army. 

The law seeks to convert NLC into National Logistics Corporation (LNC) while its director general would be a serving major general of Pakistan Army that will be appointed by the prime minister on the recommenda­tions of chief of army staff (COAS). Af­ter passage of the bill, Jamaat-e-Isla­mi Senator Mushtaq Ahmed raised his concerns over the law and said that the primary work of the Army was to pro­vide security to borders and the coun­try. The Army should not be brought into such businesses, he added. He lamented that a military-run organi­zation, which was being operated un­der an executive order, has now been formally handed over to the Army through parliamentary legislation.

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