Thursday December 02, 2021

No one would be allowed to take advantage during coronavirus outbreak: Farogh Naseem

Naseem said FBR authorised to delegate powers to state institutions such as MI, IB or ISI for assistance against smuggling

April 19, 2020
The News/via

ISLAMABAD: Law and Justice Minister Farogh Naseem said Sunday the government would not let anyone benefit from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and that anyone found involved in smuggling or hoarding essential items would face severe punishment.

"No one would be allowed to take advantage of the situation in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country," Naseem vowed, as he announced the promulgation of an ordinance against the hoarding of essential commodities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new ordinance contains a three-year sentence, summary trial, and confiscation of the material if one is found guilty of hoarding wheat, sugar, flour, ghee, sanitisers, face masks, and other essential items.

The minister said the government had also prepared an Anti-Smuggling Ordinance to stop the smuggling of dollars and essential commodities, such as wheat and sugar, through undeclared routes. It was sent to the Prime Minister's Office for vetting and was likely to be promulgated by Monday or Tuesday, he added.

Naseem stressed that although the customs department would be the focal one to stop this practice, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) would be authorised to delegate powers to any state institution, such as the Military Intelligence (MI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to seek their assistance against smuggling.

He mentioned that the district administrations had also been instructed to share information related to any act of smuggling or hoarding with relevant institutions so prompt action may be taken against such activities.

"A copy of this information would also be sent to secretary law and justice who will view the actions taken by the department concerned," he said. Stern action, he added, would also be taken against officers for any negligence in the matter.

The minister said the ordinance was subject to revision in extraordinary situations if necessary. A summary trial against the culprits would be initiated in accordance with the law, he added, noting that the judges in this regard would be appointed with the consultation of the chief justice of Pakistan.

Naseem said the law ministry had resolved a total of 60,649 cases over 20 months, which translated to a 99% clearance ratio. His ministry had been working "round the clock over the last several days" to prepare ordinances against hoarding and smuggling, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice Mulaeka Bokhari said the laws were a manifestation of Prime Minister Imran Khan's vision and a fulfillment of the ruling PTI’s manifesto.

Bokhari said the anti-hoarding and anti-smuggling laws would provide relief to the common people and safeguard their interests.