Islamabad: A meeting of the Technical Committee on Political Finance was held under the chairmanship of Mr. Ishtiak Ahmad Khan, Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan to explore the innovative ideas and new measures to be adopted to control election expenses and to also ensure the authenticity of the assets and liabilities submitted by the Parliamentarians.
To start with, it was pointed out that the existing format of the Form being used to obtain assets declaration needs to be suitably modified keeping in view the following points:
1. It should contain the details of assets and its sources of acquisition whether inherited, gifted or purchased.
2. As far as valuation of the assets is concerned currently its value is determined subjectively without any specific formula resulting in a lot of confusion whereas under the relevant laws/rules, the following provisions exist:
a. In case of inherited property there is no need to declare the value of the asset.
b. In case of property received as a gift, there is no need to declare the value of the asset; and
c. In case of purchase of an asset, only the initial cost of purchase/acquisition needs to be given.
3. If the value of an asset of any of the above categories has appreciated over a period of time after its acquisition that should not be a cause of concern at the time of declaration of assets as under the law no adverse inference can be drawn because any addition in value is neither taxable nor an offence.
4. It was also observed that the Federal Board of Revenue can verify assets only if the ECP directs them to carry out this exercise.
5. There has been a demand from various quarters to place the statements of assets and liabilities submitted by the parliamentarians on the ECP’s website. After detailed deliberations, it was felt appropriate that this should only be done when assets of all others deriving emoluments from the public exchequer/federal consolidated fund, are also placed on the website.
6. Based on best experiences of other countries, specific modalities should be worked out jointly by the FBR and ECP to monitor the election expenses during election campaigns.
7. With a view to imposing restrictions on the size of banners and hoardings etc. as already laid down in the code of conduct, the recommendations are being placed before the ECP for issuing necessary directives.
8. The recommendations made in the workshop on political finance held on 3-4 November 2010, in consultation with political parties and financial experts, should be implemented in letter and spirit.
9. As also recommended in the above workshop, services of the Institute of Chartered Accountancy will be utilized to streamline all the above areas, as was also offered by them.
10. The meeting was also informed that the ECP is creating its Political Finance Wing, to be headed by a Financial Analyst, for which creation of posts has been approved by the Committee headed by the Honourable Chief Election commissioner and representatives of the Finance and Establishment Divisions.
11. As the parliamentarians do not submit their Income Tax return to the ECP, It was clarified that it falls in the domain of FBR.
12. A sub-committee headed by the Addl Secretary, ECP comprising officers of the ECP, FBR and other quarter concerned will work out detailed recommendations in the above mentioned areas for consideration by this committee within two months. The sub-committee shall meet on fortnightly basis to finalize its recommendations.
For more information, contact:
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)
Election Commission of Pakistan Secretariat
Election House, Constitution Avenue G-5/2, Islamabad
Tel: +9251 920 1975, +9251 920 6062
Fax: +9251 920 5402, +9251 920 5300