Corruption is bane for economic growth

 

LAHORE – National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry described corruption as bane for economic growth and underlined need for action at state level to rescue citizens from its clutches.

During his address as chief guest at a ceremony organized by English Speaking Union (ESU) on Saturday, he said ensuring fundamental rights and provision of facilities amenities like education, food and health cost money, time and efforts. “Wastage or pilferage of these precious facilities with a malafide intention is corruption and there is consensus that it hampers economic growth and social development.” Hard earned public money was drained out of the system by the corrupt thereby depriving the general public of essential services and good quality of life, he said.

The Father of Nation Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his inaugural address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan had termed “corruption as a poison,” needed to be dealth with efficiently. This also needs effective enforcement of laws and promote equity and accountability to curb corruption, he said. Over the years, unchecked corruption at various levels and tiers of society has resulted in corrupt flaunting their ill gotten wealth with impunity and also trying, somewhat successfully, to silence those who undertake to enforce the rule of law, he said.

Chairman NAB said that the menace of corruption and poverty were closely interlinked, increase in one has a direct bearing on the other. He said good governance means authorities becoming responsible and utilizing public funds prudently to ensure optimum return for every rupee spent from national exchequer. For this to happen, it was incumbent upon all of us to ensure that the values of inclusiveness, participation, rule of law, transparency and accountability are imbibed into the very thought process and psyche of society as a whole.

He said that it generates a sense of insecurity making people go astray because they start losing faith in ability and capability of any government and society. Consequently, people who no longer trust their governments may simply withdraw from the political process.  In corrupt societies, everyone “condemns” bribery, but everyone gives and takes bribes, because not only nothing is getting done without that, but also because nothing is being done about it. The chairman said that the NAB was striving to accomplish its mission to rid the nation from corruption and corrupt practices and essentially is a complaint driven organization.

The NAB operational methodology has set three stages for proceeding of cases complaint verification, inquiry and investigation and top most priority is accorded to complaints of corruption against NAB’s own officials. The NAB’s personnel need to follow a strict code of conduct and zero tolerance against corruption and it had to be visibly exhibited, he said.

Qamar Zaman said that through detailed introspection and analysis of organizational weaknesses, overhaul of procedures and business processes, all pillars of the organization including operations, prosecution, human resource development and awareness and prevention have been reactivated.

In January 2014, a high level committee was constituted under the chairmanship of deputy chairman NAB to review all high profile pending cases prior to May 2011 for expeditious processing and disposal. The committee has so far cleared 230 cases out of 285 and remaining 55 cases (25 pending due to court orders) were being processed on fast track.

To further clear the backlog, all other delayed cases were given timeliness and direction was issued to clear them by June 30, 2015. By now, 70 per cent pending inquiries and 80 per cent investigations have been completed. The concept of ‘Combined Investigation Team’ was introduced to discourage the possibility of any single NAB officer or official’s influencing the discharge of official business.

The NAB has recovered over Rs 18.831 billion of looted public money in the last one year bringing the total recovery to date to Rs 264.4 billion, he said. The number of applications received in 2014 was 40,077 with double the number of 19,900 received in 2013. The increase in applications to NAB was reflective of people’s confidence in our work.

He said that it is encouraging that for the first time Anti-Corruption has been made a part of development agenda in Pakistan. So, any serious effort to combat corruption must start with realization that it is our collective social responsibility. He urged every member of society to set personal, professional and official conduct above any type of influence and prejudice. Intelligentsia, academia and media should sensitise people about the adverse impact of corruption on society and economy.

He reiterated that NAB was determined to perform its national duty with absolute objectivity, thorough professionalism and unimpeachable integrity and without any leanings for or against anybody.  Shahid Hamid, Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami and members of English Speaking Union were also present.

 

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