ISLAMABAD    -   National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal has said that business community is the backbone of country’s economy and the bureau is ready to address their reservations.

Addressing a press conference here at NAB Headquarters, he said NAB respects business leaders and special cells have been established at NAB headquarters as well as all its regional offices to address their grievances.

He said a consultative committee having representation of business community will also be made for resolution their problems and hopefully businessmen and traders would have no complaint against NAB.

Javed Iqbal said he had constituted complaint cells in NAB headquarters and regional bureaus with the mandate to resolve traders’ complaints within 48 hours of their filing but not even a single complaint was received since the last five months.

He said he will fix a special day for listening to the business community members while he was already hearing people’s problems on last Thursday of every month. He said he will alternatively visit each region for listening the businessmen’s grievances.

He said he had met with business community representatives in Lahore a few days ago and briefed them about the steps taken for addressing their problems.

The chairman said NAB had not authorized any tax evasion case since 2017 and it had no plan of doing so in future also. The business community’s tax related cases would be referred to the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR), he added.

He also said the Bureau would not take suo moto action against bank defaulters and will refer such matters to the banking courts instead for appropriate action.

He also said that NAB never takes action in bank default cases on its own rather State Bank under 31-D refers such cases to NAB. He said action starts after failure of settlement between client and the bank.

Justice Javed said NAB would never harass any honest and law abiding businessman who provided jobs to hundreds of workers and played his role in the development of the country.

He declared that no NAB official would telephone any business person and if necessary, the director general would send a notice to an accused, stating the reason for sending the notice. In case of an unsatisfactory reply, the business person would not be summoned but sent a questionnaire. They would be summoned only if the answer of questionnaire too turned out to be unsatisfactory, he added.

The NAB chief offered to withdraw cases against housing societies if they provide the promised plots and apartments to the affected people within eight week period.

He said NAB has no role in recession as it has no control over dollar price fluctuation, collection of taxes, increase in taxes, activities of stock exchange, etc. He added that an upturn could be brought through better economic policies and making bureaucracy vibrant.

Justice Javed said he was surprised when he learnt that a businessman had shown reservations about NAB during a meeting of a group of business tycoons with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on Wednesday. Interestingly, he said, the same businessman had written a letter to the Bureau and appreciated its services.

He said a businessman asked him while he was in Lahore that why prompt recovery was not being made from the corrupt elements on the pattern of Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption drive, and he told him that NAB did not believe in Saudi model.

NAB chairman said the bureau investigates complicated white collar corruption cases which start form one city, reaches to another, and end up in foreign countries. He said corrupt people purchase properties in countries having no agreement with Pakistan for return of looted money.

The bureau collects information from various countries about corruption through mutual legal assistance but some countries did not provide information. The only way of seeking information from them is having bilateral agreements on corruption information exchange, he added.

The retired judge said that a reference filed by NAB should be decided within 30 days period as per law but some references were not decided despite passage of three to four years. NAB would plead for early disposal of all such cases, he added.

Javed Iqbal alleged that a section of press had made it a habit to criticise NAB sans any cogent reason. He urged media to publish or air NAB related news only after obtaining official point of view and avoid speculations. He however said that positive criticism and sound suggestions were welcome.

The chairman also claimed that people implicated in corruption cases and those on the NAB radar for their corrupt practices were spearheading the propaganda campaign against NAB, wrongly believing that it would make the bureau retreat. It will never happen as NAB is absolutely committed to eliminating corruption, he added.

Talking about their performance, he said NAB had recovered Rs71 billion during the last 22 months while 1,230 corruption cases involving Rs900 billion corruption were under trial in different accountability courts.

Javed said action was being taken against illegal private housing societies as they have looted people and did not provide them promised plots or properties. He said NAB will proceed against such housing societies as had deprived widows, pensioners and innocent people of their life savings. He said billion of rupees have already been returned to such people thanks to NAB action.