In wake of the federal cabinet’s strict notice of the statement by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) regarding rampant corruption in the country, NAB Chairman Admiral (r) Fasih Bokhari hurriedly called a pre-emptive press conference on Thursday to clear his position on corruption data.
The cabinet had rejected the NAB report on Wednesday.
In a sombre tone, Bokhari made an effort to clear the air between him and the government, but stood his ground and defended his statement.
He said NAB was a part of the government and wanted to assist it in plugging the leakages.
“Corruption is no longer a party-centric‚ incident-centric phenomenon, but is now an attitude across the board. Daily corruption of about Rs 5-7 billion mentioned by NAB is a terrible figure for Pakistan, but it is an international perception based on various factors of negligence. The figure is based on annual direct losses as evident from various indicators. For example internationally average acceptable tax to GDP ratio is 17-20 percent while the figure in Pakistan is nine percent, making a total loss of Rs 2,500-3,000 billion,” he added.
He said the actual quantum of leakage of resources was around Rs 10-12 billion a day, which included tax evasion of Rs 7 billion and around Rs 5-6 billion leakages being committed in state institutions across the country, including the Centre and the provinces.
“The history of corruption in Pakistan is long. Even Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had talked of its elimination… Moreover, the phenomenon of corruption is not limited to Pakistan only, rather it is a global phenomenon,” he added.
Bokhari reiterated his claim that corruption was taking place at a large scale in the country. The NAB chairman said it was imperative to amend the system in order to stamp out corruption.
Bokhari praised the role played by media in eradicating corruption and declared the Pakistani media NAB’s partner.
He also said 59 laws were passed to tackle corruption since Pakistan came into being. Moreover, he said only two of the three pillars of the state remained standing, as corruption had weakened Pakistan’s roots. “There are two state institutions left in the country. One is legislator and executive and the other is judiciary”.
Bokhari clarified that he was not the only one who had raised the issue of the high amount of corruption, as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had also identified corruption of Rs 300-350 billion.
The level of corruption in the country had also been identified by the FBR and other local and foreign organisations, he added.
The NAB chairman added that taxes contributed 17-20 percent to the economy globally, while in Pakistan that number was nine percent.
He said the legislature wanted to appoint regulators of its choice without keeping in view merit.
He said records of mismanagement in matters such as forests and tree-cutting had been collected, adding that it was duty of the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) to stop tax evasion.
To a question, Bokhari said it would be wrong to talk of revolutions or military intervention, as times had changed.
To another question, Bokhari said it was wrong to perceive that the purpose of presenting statistical data on corruption meant setting an agenda for the caretaker government.
He said the NAB and government were on the same page to eradicate corruption from the country.
“The fact that I’m conducting my fourth press conference in two months shows that the NAB is serious in rooting out corruption.”
He said NAB’s assessment of direct losses in mega projects (mis-procurements) stood at Rs 350 billion.
Bokhari said the Transparency International’s CPI index had been rating Pakistan between 23-27 percent for the last 10-15 years.
“Decrease in rating must be seen in the perspective of increasing number of countries in the index.”
The NAB chief pointed out that international corruption evaluation structures were based on direct leakage parameters, not indirect losses.
He said indirect losses that had not been quantified by the bureau included agriculture sector GDP untaxed‚ revenue department‚ land grabbing and encroachments‚ loans defaults‚ over staffing‚ ghost schools, ghost employments‚ wealth tax losses, custom duties and duty drawbacks.
He said only in the energy sector, losses due to load shedding were approximately
Rs 960 billion a year, or two percent of the country’s GDP.
The NAB chairman said corruption needed to be addressed jointly, we have to jointly fight this problem with dedication.
He said Rs 80 billion had been recovered by NAB in the current year alone. Bokhari advocated that accountability of corruption since 1980s was treated with “benign neglect”.
“Erstwhile, anti-corruption institutions were based on political victimisation and post corruption prosecution, neglecting proactive approach of prevention and awareness regime.”
“NAB is committed to an anti-corruption strategy that is achieving success on pillars of awareness, prevention and prosecution in the same order of priority. The bureau is determined to eradicate corruption from the society and will not spare anyone who is doing this heinous crime,” he concluded.
He is all talk. In last few years as a director I did not hear one criminal behind bar for corruption. He is trying to keep his job by making statement. This guys live in a fool’s paradise.
A great and daring attempt on the part of a bureaucrat to highlight and to pin point , some not all, of the causes of corruption. Like Judiciary the bureaucracy instead of wilting under dictatorial pressure is finding and picking up some courage to show mirror to the destroyers of Pakistan economy. Such courageous statements are likely to add to the preservation and solidarity of Pakistan.
The credit goes to the government and NAB for the courageous statement. It is time for the politicians and bureucrats to show their skill in handling corruptions in the government departments.
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