ISLAMABAD -  A parliamentary committee on Thursday criticised the government for issuing ordinance to transform Companies Bill 2016 in to a law through a presidential ordinance by saying that the government is bypassing the parliament in legislation.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance, which met under the chair of Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, has discussed the Companies Bill 2016. Mandviwalla said that 35 Senators have submitted a resolution in the Senate against the government’s decision of promulgating Presidential Ordinance for making Companies Bill 2016 a law instead of bringing it in the parliament.

The government should address the concerns of the opposition lawmakers, otherwise Senate would strike down the bill, he added.

Other committee members including Ilyas Bilour of ANP, Nasreen Jalil of MQM, Mohsin Leghari, independent Senator, PML-N’s Senator Saud Majeed also criticised the government for issuing Presidential Ordinance in making legislation.

The Companies Law 2016, that replaces the Companies Ordinance 1984, was promulgated by President Mamnoon Hussain as an Ordinance. The Companies Ordinance 2016 would empower Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to ensure adequate measures against fraud, money laundering and terror financing.

The ordinance would authorise the government to ask foreign companies in the country and locals that have invested abroad to know their investment and beneficiaries in the wake of Panama Papers leaks.

The committee also discussed the Benami Transaction (prohibition) Bill 2016. Senator Ilyas Bilour said that Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) officials are involved in tax evasion/frauds.

The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance already had approved the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Bill, 2016. The government had claimed that the bill would also deal with offshore companies, as currently there is no law in the country to deal with it.

Legislation defines the Benami transaction as an arrangement where property is hold by a person (other than in fiduciary capacity) on behalf of another person who has paid for it; or the transaction is made for a property in a fictitious name; or the owner of the property is not aware of or denies knowledge of such ownership.

The provisions of the proposed Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Bill 2016 will not apply to any transaction entered into by an individual in the name of his spouse, brother or sister, or any lineal ascendant or descendant.

The Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Bill, 2015 has proposed 1 to 7 years of imprisonment to a person found guilty of involvement in benami transactions and imposition of 25 percent penalty of the fair market value of benami property.

The adjudication authorities would be empowered to constitute as many as benches as they deem necessary to handle the cases of benami transactions

The Benami law is designed to trace the assets mainly the real estate properties held in the fake names to hide the assets, because it had been bought from ill gotten money or non-tax paid money.

The officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR informed the committee that issue regarding auction of 300 ambulances for EDHI administration has been resolved.