SBP loans data, NAB reports start appearing on ECP website

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ISLAMABAD: While a predominant majority of the former legislators, who are contesting the May 11 general elections, has no written off or overdue loans and are not defaulters, there is a small minority, which is deeply in debt.

Similarly, there is hardly any former lawmaker, who has corruption cases pending with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as per the data provided by this agency to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which it has uploaded on its website.

In almost all cases relating to the contesting candidates, NAB gave negative reports, quoting its record. The details of overdue loans provided by the State Bank of Pakistan to the ECP are those which are outstanding for the last one year.

Sardar Jaffar Leghari, who is vying for NA-174 Rajanpur constituency, got two loans of Rs167 million written off. These were in the name of his Choti Textile Mills (Ghazi Textile Mills) that it received from the Allied Bank and National Bank.

Similarly, the SBP data showed that National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, who is fighting for NA-225 Badin, and her husband Dr Zulfikar Mirza, who has shunned electoral politics, have a total of Rs772.86 million written off that they got for their Mirza Sugar Mills.

Of these waived off amounts, loans of Rs66.395 million and Rs372 million were due to the Allied Bank Limited in Dr Zulfikarís name. She owed Rs66.395 million to the ABL and Rs268 million to the Habib Bank, which were written off as per the SBP record that it collected from various banks as directed by the ECP.

A total amount of Rs552 million has been shown as overdue against the Mirza Sugar Mills. Of it, amounts of Rs7.97 million and Rs268.338 million exist in the name of Dr Zulfikar while sums of Rs7.97 million and Rs268.338 million in the speakerís name. They owe this money to the Industrial Development Bank Limited and NIB Bank.

The Galaxy Textile Mills owned by the husband of former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who is fighting for NA-177 Muzaffargarh, has a loan of Rs56 million written off. Her father, Ghulam Rabbani Khar, who is also in the electoral field, has approximately Rs55 million as overdue that he got for his industrial unit. The wife and son of Talib Nakai, who is contesting for NA-142 Kasur, have a total amount of Rs444 million as overdue, which they got for Hamid Textile Mills. The breakup of these outstanding loans include Rs83 million, Rs134.92 million, Rs51 million, Rs83 million, Rs134.9 million and Rs4.51 million.

A wife of Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who is vying for NA-218, has two overdue amounts, Rs4.8 million and Rs12.1 million.

Interestingly, while Amir Muqam, who is contesting for NA-31, has no overdue or loan written off, he paid no tax in 2012 when he had an income of Rs3,800,000. However, in the years of 2010 and 2011 he paid Rs19,058 and Rs28,094 as tax against his income of Rs4,895,774 and Rs4,734,809 respectively.

In a highly negligible number of cases, the returning officers (ROs) barred any candidates from contesting the parliamentary polls for having their loans written off or outstanding amounts. For this reason, many people termed the process of scrutiny farcical.

One reason given by certain circles is that the ROs did not have the time to go through the record of each and every candidate provided by the SBP because of the workload. Although they were required to look at the details of all the candidates prior to giving them the clean chit, they acted only in those cases where the rival contestants pointed to the disqualification material. The ECP also uploaded tons of data on its website only after the scrutiny phase was over. Had it done before this stage, general people would have pinpointed the facts that might have led to the ineligibility of certain contestants.

However, certain arms of the ECP like the election tribunals have the immense powers under the Representation of Peoples Act 1976 to disqualify any candidate at any stage and even after his or her election. Such tribunals can act on their own or on information provided by anyone to them. Therefore, the sword of Damocles would continue to hang on such dodger even if they returned.

Courtesy: †The News

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