The upper house of Parliament on Friday passed a bill to set up a new authority to counter money laundering and terror financing despite opposition from some Senators, a day after the legislation was rushed through the National Assembly.

The bill, titled “National Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Authority Bill”, was tabled in the Senate by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar.

According to the draft, the proposed authority will be headed by a chairman and will consist of the federal secretaries for finance, foreign affairs and interior; the State Bank of Pakistan governor; chairpersons of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, National Account­ability Bureau, and Federal Board of Revenue; directors general of the Federal Investigation Agency, Anti Narcotics Force and Financial Monitoring Unit; national coordinator of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta); and chief secretaries of all four provinces, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

It may be mentioned that most of these officials were also part of Nacta, formed in 2008. The authority — set up to improve coordination on counter-terrorism efforts — remained dormant for years as it could not convene its meetings because of the non-availability of members.

According to the new legislation, the proposed authority can convene meetings on the requisition of the chairman or half of its members.

Shortly after tabling the bill, Khar attempted to “explain” the need for the legislation, saying that it appeared “dangerous” due to its title.

“In my eyes, this bill is actually an effort by the government of Pakistan for the continuation of the great work that the state has done to get Pakistan out of not only the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, but now ensuring that the continuation of that work must happen in an institutionalised manner,” she said.

Khar also gave a rundown of FATF’s history. She said that it was created in 1989 by G7 countries with the primary goal of countering money laundering. She said that in 2001, countering terrorist financing was also included in taskforce’s mandate.

Khar further said that later, the United Nations Security Council recognised FATF as a “global norms setter” with regard to anti-money laundering, terrorist financing and controlling proliferation.

“And we have seen how FATF’s role has increased over the years. And we have seen the effects of this too,” she said.

She said that the monitoring of money laundering and terror financing could not be confined to one area. She said that the financial monitoring unit was set up under the Ministry of Finance while Nacta was also set up.

“So this bill basically is proposing to set up an authority,” she said, adding that the chairperson would be appointed by the premier.

Khar said that the authority will ensure that it is able to bring all the work that is happening within the government of Pakistan and the provinces at one place so that “we can monitor our progress, and if there are any loopholes, we can connect them and stop them before we run into serious problems”.

The state minister requested the House to pass the bill as “quickly as possible”.

Senator Yousaf Raza Gilani then said that this was an issue which concerned the whole country, terming it to be “important”. Meanwhile, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar asked Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to get a “sense of the House”, noting that complaints had arisen that the treasury benches were “bulldozing” legislation.

The law minister said that this was a matter of “national interest”, saying that Pakistan was a sovereign state that needed to fulfil the commitments it had made to exit the FATF grey list. “We should take care [but] we never leave politics out of anything,” he said.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar then said that this was a “sensitive subject” and had a “long history”. “I dealt with this issue. In 2013, Pakistan was virtually on the black list,” the minister said, adding that Pakistan had to take “so many actions” to become “virtually grey” in 2014.

He said that Pakistan was removed from the grey list in 2015 after presenting its plan for the future. “Now, our job was to never let Pakistan come back into the grey list […] I think this is a national issue, kindly consider it,” he said, adding three months could not be afforded to the bill.

“Maximum I think it should be cleared on Sunday because it will cause us harm internationally by delaying it,” Dar said as he voiced his support for Khar’s request for taking up the bill at once.

PTI’s Mohsin Aziz, meanwhile, highlighted that editorials were being written about Parliament and various debates were taking place. He said that 12 bills were on today’s agenda.

“How can these be read in one day? How can deliberations be done? Some of these bills may be good but don’t make us a rubber stamp […] tell me what these collectives deliberations, these committees are for,” Aziz said.

“I don’t understand this haste […] 54 bills presented during the past four days and presented, I don’t think this has ever happened. What is the need for this haste?” he asked as he urged the Senate chairman to put the bill up for discussion.

When Sanjrani put the bill up for a vote, it was passed with 28 Senators voting in its favour and nine members opposing it. However, Senators Raza Rabbani, Kamran Murtaza, Tahir Bizenjo and Umer Farooq did not partake in the bill’s voting.

The Senate also approved the Import Export Control Act Amendment Bill, the Trademark Amendment Bill, the Hajj and Umrah Regulatory Bill, and the Ruet-i-Hilal Bill.

The bill

The already established Nacta and the government’s Financial Monitoring Unit will be brought under the proposed authority.

As per the objectives of the draft bill, Pakistan is required to cooperate with international organisations “for anti-money laundering, countering financing of terrorism and targeted financial sanctions by way of promulgating requisite legal and regulatory framework.”

“Whereas while various federal and provincial agencies, departments, ministries and institutions of Pakistan are functioning in connection with anti-money laundering, countering of financing of terrorism and targeted financial sanctions under various laws in force, there is need of a focal institution to unify state response by planning, combining, coordinating and implementing government policy through an exhaustive strategic planning and necessary ancillary mechanism,” read the bill.

In other legislations, the assembly also passed a bill for the reorganisation of the National Logistics Cell (NLC).

As per the bill, a National Logistics Corporation will be set up to carry out logistics, infrastructure and other functions earlier carried out by the NLC. All funds, properties and employees of the NLC would also be transferred to the new corporation.




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