ISLAMABAD: The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has decided to forward the names of all of its 291 officials of grade 18 and above to the Supreme Court for selection of one of them as a member of the joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate allegations against the prime minister and his family stemming from the Panama Papers.

This was said by SECP chairman Zafar Hijazi while briefing a meeting of the Senate standing committee on finance here on Thursday.

Chairman of the committee Senator Saleem Mandviwalla had inquired about the issue and asked Mr Hijazi to brief the meeting on it. “We want to know the reasons why the names forwarded by the SECP and the State Bank have been rejected by the court,” he said.

The SECP chairman said he was not aware of the reasons behind the apex court’s rejection of the names earlier forwarded by the commission for the JIT membership.

Senate panel approves Companies Bill 2017

He added, “We have decided to forward the names of all the officers of grade 18 and above to the Supreme Court so that there is no confusion. What can we do?” There are 291 officials of that cadre in the commission.

This brought perplexed looks on the faces of the participants of the meeting and Mr Mandviwalla asked, “How would they select the right person from such a huge list?”

As Mr Hijazi, along with a commissioner and senior executives of the SECP, remained silent, Senator Kamil Ali Agha said, “This is not a problem as selecting a diamond is easy due to its unique shine.”

He was referring to the remarks made by Justice Ejaz Afzal of the Supreme Court that members of the JIT needed to be known for their integrity like a diamond.

The committee chairman maintained his calm by containing his smile and saying, “Alright, let us continue with the agenda.”

The meeting was also scheduled to discuss and approve the Companies Bill 2017. It approved the bill with certain amendments.

Major amendments proposed by the panel envisage empowerment of women, protection of rights of disabled people and making the process of doing business easy.

The major changes incorporated in the bill by the committee include mandatory presence of a female member on the boards of all public interest companies.

Public interest companies are private and government-owned entities involved in public service, ranging from public transport services and industrial units to educational institutes and NGOs.

The committee directed the SECP to ensure that every public interest company, which had 50 or more employees, would be required to hire two per cent disabled individuals.

“We want to promote women into decision-making positions, and I suggest that there should be some protection for transgender persons too,” Senator Mandviwalla said.

But the proposal of mandatory hiring of transgender persons by companies was dropped on the insistence of the SECP officials, who said that it would be covered under a law in the offing.

The SECP chairman said that the bill intended to encourage and promote corporatisation in the country based on the best international practices.

The bill has simplified the procedures of signing of statutory returns and making changes in the memorandum of association of a company.

The bill, along with the amendments, will be soon placed before the Senate and, after becoming a law, will replace the Companies Ordinance 1984.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2017



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