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Opposition protest govt's failure to answer questions.

Byline: Jamal Shahid

ISLAMABAD -- Opposition members protested on Thursday after learning that the government has not responded to nearly half of the questions they posed during the question and answer session.

All the questions for the Ministry of Energy pertaining to taxes on oil, the price of petrol sold to citizens, gas and the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) were referred to another day, while the Ministry of Law and Justice failed to respond to questions about most issues related to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and measures taken against corruption in government departments.

MNA Choudhary Faqir Ahmed said he had been waiting for a response to questions about lawsuits filed against NAB in international arbitration courts since the fifth parliamentary session some five months ago.

'We know that international courts have slapped a fine of over $8.5 billion with 7pc interest rates. The fine has accumulated to $10bn. How will Pakistan now pay such a huge penalty, and the government is not even bothered to answer. These are critical questions,' Mr Ahmed told Speaker Asad Qaiser.

PML-N MNA Rana Tanveer Hussain pointed out that speakers in the past have taken action against ministries and officials that did not provide information requested by members.

He urged the speaker to take action against ministries for failing to respond for several months.

PPP MNA Naveed Qamar echoed these sentiments when he told the speaker he would find the answers to most questions missing if he skimmed the pages.

Law Minister Dr Mohammad Farogh Naseem conceded that his office had not been able to respond to questions.

'We have been writing to concerned departments. However, if the department does not want to respond it would be advisable to summon its head. We request for one more chance to collect the information that the members have asked for,' he said.

He also told the speaker that if the law ministry could not answer questions next time the speaker could take the necessary actions.

In response to questions from MNA Saad Waseem, the minister explained that there are 1,205 referencescurrently in accountability courts, along with 521 appeals and 280 NAB cases in high courts.

According to the ministry, 959 inquiries were in progress until Feb 25 at regional NAB bureaus that were expected to be completed within the due time-frame if not extended. So far, 575 inquiries have been finalised since 2018.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Apr 26, 2019
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