The floors of the National Assembly and the Senate have become too political, it seems; whether a debate on a bill will occur depends on the politics of the day, rather than the impact that such legislation could have on the country.

Such appears to be the fate of the controversial National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, introduced by the government. The bill will cause a serious difference to the functioning of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and indeed, the environment in the country regarding corruption and accountability. It seeks to curtail NAB powers in cases against businessmen; according to Section 4(2)(b) of the NAO Amendment 2019, unless person not a holder of public office or not linked to it, committed the crime of cheating and criminal breach of trust, he or she would not be liable for any offence under the NAO.

This is a significant amendment which needs careful and thoughtful deliberation—a meaningful opposition could point out the loopholes for corruption it provides for public office holders, and can be effectively used as a shield by businesses and directors of companies against prosecution by NAB. Even if the opposition agrees with the contents of the bill, it is still worthy of discussion. Yet, in the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Wednesday, the opposition members surprised by declaring that it was ready to pass the bill “as it is”.

The opposition’s stance on the bill is unclear—while it previously termed the Amendment as “the mother of NROs”, at certain times, it has seemed to advocate the sentiment of the bill or even expand it. Nevertheless, this cavalier attitude towards such an impactful bill betrays a lack of seriousness and principles among the opposition. We only see unrelenting opposition or no debate at all; such extremes make it hard to understand the opposition’s true stance. On principle; every single point should be discussed and debated; this lack of oversight is why we see new laws for the same issues every few years.