KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that after repealing the NAB law [the Sindh jurisdiction] the provincial government is going to restructure and strengthen the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) through legislation under which the provincial assembly, treasury members and the opposition, would be empowered to appoint its chairman.

He said this while responding to the questions of the participants of the post-budget conference at a local hotel. He was accompanied by Information Minister Syed Nasir Shah and senior bureaucrats of the provincial government.

He said that the NAB was created by a dictator [Gen Musharraf] and he had given it a constitutional cover by including it into the 6th Schedule to avoid amendment into it. “Under 18th Constitutional Amendment the 6th schedule was omitted, therefore the NAB law could be amended,” he said and added “since the anti-corruption is the provincial subject, therefore the Sindh government using its constitutional right has repealed the NAB law [Sindh Section] and is going to enact for creation of an autonomous anti-corruption body to serve as watch and ward on public spending in the province.

Questioning the performance of NAB, the chief minister said that they [NAB] had arrested a chief engineer and a Superintendent Engineer of irrigation department for lining canals and had put them in Sukkur Jail for three months. The judge who granted them bail had written in his judgement that the irrigation officers were arrested under malafied intentions.

“The DG NAB Sukkur has occupied a bungalow of Irrigation department at Barrage Colony Sukkur and latter got it forcibly allotted. Through a scheme of Irrigation Department, he has spent Rs45million of provincial government on its repair and renovation,” he said and added two more bungalows of Irrigation Department at Barrage Colony, one by Assistant Director NAB and other one by NAB judge have been occupied and got them allotted forcibly.

They have also got their bungalow renovation for Rs1.5 million. One bungalow of Works department at GOR Colony Hyderabad and a vehicle of Sindh Irrigation & Drainage Authority (SIDA) is under the use of assistant director NAB and other NAB officer posted at Hyderabad. “This is what they are doing with Sindh,” he said.

The chief minister also said that the harassment of Sindh government officers by NAB is one of the factors behind less utilization of development funds in Sindh.

Giving constitutional history, Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the entire constitutional structure of the country is based on Indian Act of 1935. In the constitution of 1956 the measures to combat corruption was placed in the concurrent list while in the constitution of 1973 it has been made a provincial subject. In Article 248 it has been clearly said that no minister is responsible to any court of law in exercise of his powers.

The chief minister said that under the NAB law, in violation of the constitution, the federal & the provincial cabinet members and the parliamentarian like civil servants have been declared as public office holders. This was done by General Musharraf with the intention to harass the politicians and parliamentarians. 

“Why people did not make hue and cry when the federally imposed Local Bodies Ordinance and Police Order were repealed and re-enacted by the provincial governments,” he question and said “just it is being politicized to defame the Sindh government, otherwise we have used our constitutional power,” he said.

He deplored that Sindh Governor has linked repealing of NAB law as an attempt to separate Sindh from the federation. “I am quite surprised on his views. He has constitutional role and he should limit himself with that limits instead of indulging issuing irresponsible political statements,” he said. He questioned why he did not raise his voice or same question when Punjab Chief Minister had warned NAB authorities for crossing their limits.

Replying to a question about National Captive Power Projects (NCPP), the chief minister said that they have already been established in different six districts of the province with a capacity of 120 MW. They are not functional because there is a dispute of tariff between their companies and the Nepra.

“The federal government does not support Sindh because the electricity to be generated by them (NCPP) would be used locally means where they are installed. Had the power generated by NCPP was loaded in the national grid the federal government would have solved the issue much earlier.

“This is why we have decided to pay the differential tariff amount which may cost over to Rs1 billion to Sindh government to reduce load-shedding in some districts,” he said and added it was purely aimed at giving relief to the people of Sindh.