ISLAMABAD: For the first time in the country’s history, the caretaker prime minister and chief ministers as well as their cabinet members will be bound to submit statements of their assets and liabilities to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) within three days from assumption of office.

An ECP official told Dawn that the caretakers would be required to submit statements of assets and liabilities, including those of their spouses and children, depicting the position as on June 30 last.

He said that under Section 230 of the Elections Act, the statements to be made on a specified form would be published in the official gazette.

Law bars caretaker government from taking a decision that may have an effect or pre-empt the exercise of authority by the future government.

The law bars the caretaker government from taking major policy decisions except on urgent matters and restricts it to activities that are of routine, non-controversial and urgent, in the public interest and reversible by the future government. The caretaker government is required to perform its functions to attend to day-to-day matters which are necessary to run the affairs of the government,

The caretaker government is barred by the law from taking any decision or making a policy that may have effect or pre-empt the exercise of authority by the future elected government, entering into a major contract or undertaking if it is detrimental to public interest, entering into major international negotiation with any foreign country or international agency or signing or ratifying any international binding instrument except in an exceptional case.

The caretaker government will also have no powers to make promotions and major appointments of public officials, but will be permitted to make acting or short-term appointments in public interest. The caretakers will not transfer public officials unless it is considered expedient and that too after ECP’s approval.

The caretaker government will not attempt to influence the elections or cause to be done anything which may, in any manner, influence or adversely affect the free and fair elections.

Meanwhile, the Election Rules, 2017, barred the caretaker prime minister from shuffling the government officials without prior permission of the ECP.

Rule 170 of the Election Rules states: “The caretaker government may transfer or shuffle public officials, if considered expedient, after the approval of the Commission. The directions of the Commission shall be complied with by the caretaker government and the compliance report shall be sent to the ECP immediately.”

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2018