In a first, ECP to audit assets of Pak parliamentarians

Islamabad [Pakistan]: In what could be a probable first in Pakistan, the election commission has reportedly decided to conduct a random audit of the assets of lawmakers based on the statements that they file annually.

According to the Express Tribune, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has said that it will scrutinise the asset statements of 25 percent of the lawmakers

It quoted sources, as saying that lawmakers would be randomly picked and their statements of assets and liabilities scrutinised and compared.

On Tuesday, an ECP officer told media that the poll body could seek the services of the judiciary, administration and revenue departments in performing this exercise.

Though over ambitious, if this exercise is carried out in true spirit, it could serve as an effective accountability mechanism of legislators.

Under Section 42A(1) of the Representation of Peoples’ Act (ROPA), all members of parliament and four provincial legislatures have to submit statements of their assets and liabilities of their own, their spouses and dependents to the commission by September 30, each year.

Another clause of Section 42A(4) reads: “Where a member submits the statement of assets and liabilities under Sub-Section (1) which is found to be false in material particulars, he may be proceeded against under Section 82 for committing the offence of corrupt practice.”

Section 82 of the ROPA prescribes punishment of imprisonment for a term up to three years for a person found guilty of corrupt practice. If convicted, a lawmaker risks disqualification.

Incorporated in 2002, these provisions have remained dormant. Lawmakers only submit asset declarations and the ECP publishes them without any verification. (ANI)