The National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday passed the ‘Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill, 2017, which would provide for prohibition of holding property in Benami inside and outside the country.
The House also okayed four other bills, including the National Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill, 2015; the Explosive Substance (Amendment) Bill 2016; the Companies Appointment of Legal Advisers Amendment Act, 2016.
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill, 2017, already passed by the Senate, besides prohibition of holding property in Benami, also provides restriction to recover or transfer property held in Benami and provides a mechanism and procedure for confiscation of property held in this way.
The bill also seeks to deal with the problem of tax evasion and black money, especially in the real estate sector. Special courts would be formed which would deal with offences under this Act. Anyone found guilty of doing Benami transaction or holding such property shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for one to seven years and shall also be liable to fine, which may extend to 25% of the fair market value of the property.
Any property, which is subject matter of Benami transaction, shall be liable to be confiscated by the federal government. The National Commission on the Right of the Child Bill, 2015 provides for establishment of an independent commission to monitor, protect and promote the rights of the child.
The commission, headed by a chairperson and having ex-officio members and six members, would examine the existing or proposed legislation and administrative instruments, laws and practices regarding rights of child. It shall have the powers vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
The Explosive Substance (Amendment) Bill 2016, is meant to amend the Section 7 of the Explosive Substance Act, 1908. The Apprenticeship Bill, 2017, the Pakistan Tobacco Board (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and the Public Interest Disclosures Bill, 2017 were also introduced in the House on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution condemning the terrorist attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec city of Canada targeting innocent Muslims, resulting in loss of six precious lives and injury to many others.
The resolution, moved by Minister for Law Zahid Hamid, offered deepest condolences to the bereaved families. The resolution expressed solidarity with the government and the people of Canada and appreciated the Canadian prime minister for condemning the incident and reaffirming the government’s resolve to provide protection to the Muslims in the country.
An anti-Trump resolution sought to be moved by the opposition parties was disallowed by the chair in the National Assembly. The opposition members from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) wanted to move a resolution against US President Donald Trump’s executive order against several Muslim countries.
The refusal of Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi to allow the motion triggered protest among the opposition members who continued to press for their demand.
The protesting members, including Dr. Shireen Mazari and Dr Arif Alvi of PTI and Dr Shazia Marri of PPP, said the government was afraid of the United States and that was why the chair was not allowing the resolution.
The deputy speaker, however, told the opposition members to follow the rules as a prior notice was required to be given before moving a resolution. The chair also disallowed another resolution which the MQM member Syed Waseem Hussain wanted to move against killing of women who were burnt to death in Multan and Mansehra.
Meanwhile, the PML-N members, speaking on a calling attention notice, expressed concern over charging of high rate of 16.5% mark up by Zarai Taraqiati Bank from farmers whereas the State Bank provides loans to industrialists at the low rate of 5.75 %.
The calling attention notice was moved by the PML-N parliamentarians, including Rana Muhammad Hayat Khan, Sheikh Fayyazuddin and others. Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan told the House that the figures are not correct. He said there are three categories of agriculture sector loans by the Zarai Taraqiati Bank. He told the House that the matter of agriculture loan mark-up has been referred to the select committee of the House and recommendations of the committee would be considered to reduce the mark-up rate.
Replying to another calling attention notice moved by Shazia Marri and others regarding recent incidents of alleged harassment of female anchorpersons in Pakistan Television Network by its heads of departments and the biased and derogatory attitude of the Harassment Committee thereof, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb told the House that an inquiry committee had been constituted to investigate the matter.