ISLAMABAD - The Senate standing committee on finance on Tuesday favoured a bill that calls for doing away with the interest-based economic system and sought recommendations from the ministry of finance on the bill.

The Senate’s committee, which met under the chair of Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, discussed a bill to prohibit the business and practices of private money-lending and advancing loans and transactions based on interest, (the Islamabad Capital Territory Prohibition of Interest on Private Loans Act, 2017). The bill was presented by Jamat-i-Islami’s Senator Siraj-ul-Haq in the Senate on August 28, 2017. The Senate had sent the bill to the standing committee for discussion.

The committee members appreciated the bill and asked ministry of finance to submit its recommendations within one month. However, the ministry of finance and ministry of law and justice said that aforesaid bill does not relate to their ministries. The cabinet division should decide which ministry deal with the bill. However, the committee directed ministry of finance to give their recommendations.

The committee chairman appreciated the efforts of Siraj-ul-Haq for presenting the bill. “This bill should have come much earlier,” he added. However, we would have to implement the bill after its approval, he remarked. Other committee members also favoured the bill.

Speaking on the occasion, mover of bill, Siraj-ul-Haq said that Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies had already approved the bill. Meanwhile, KP has also started implementing the bill in the province. Therefore, the federal government should also approve and implement the bill at the federal level, he added.

Haq said that the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah have explicitly and unequivocally prohibited charging interest on loans and have declared war against those who do not abandon interest. He further said that constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan obliges the State to take steps to enable the Muslims of Pakistan, individually and collectively, to order their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam and to provide facilities whereby they may be enabled to understand the meaning of life according to the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah.

“Interest base loans have badly affected the already poor economic condition of people of Pakistan. Due to private loan transactions public is molested by the lenders who are unable to pay even principal amount,” he said and added that lenders are continuously harassing to recover the amount with multiplied interest amount. The Senator said that it was expedient to make a comprehensive legislation on the subject for covering all the aspects of the mischief of private money lending and matters akin.

The Standing committee also discussed the issue of Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to take its revenue from other regulators. The committee was informed that only Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) is paying fee to the CCP. Meanwhile, other regulators like National Electric Power Regulatory Authority; Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority; Pakistan Telecommunication Authority; and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority are not paying the fee to CCP. The official of ministry of law and justice informed the committee that regulators should pay the fee.