National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice retired Javed Iqbal has announced that the anti-corruption watchdog will not pursue cases pertaining to income tax or sales tax against members of the business community, a press release issued on Friday said.
The NAB chairman added that ongoing such cases against businessmen will be sent to the Federal Board of Revenue and notices recently issued to owners of flour mills by the anti-corruption watchdog's Multan office are suspended with immediate effect. He said he will personally look into the matter.
"NAB is a people and business-friendly institution and gives top priority to solving problems being faced by the business community," the press release quoted the NAB chairman as saying.
Iqbal made the comments at the NAB headquarters during a meeting with a delegation of businessmen headed by Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry President Daroo Khan Achakzai.
Iqbal rubbished as "speculation" that NAB's proceedings had created problems for the business community. "The business community is playing an important role in economic development. The prosperity of traders will lead to the prosperity of the country and NAB is playing its role while keeping this in mind," he said. He promised that traders "who provide employment to thousands of people will not be harassed".
He further said that NAB "never humiliated anyone during interrogation". He told the traders' delegation that a special desk has been set up at NAB headquarters in order to "protect the interests of the business community".
Iqbal's statement come days after the federal cabinet decided to make some procedural changes in the working of NAB to provide a “fearless” environment for business activities and investment for the revival of the sagging economy.
“In the light of complaints of the business community against NAB, the federal cabinet discussed how the practice of arm-twisting and threatening of businessmen by some NAB officials can be thwarted,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan had said in a press conference after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The accountability bureau has also been taking action against owners of private housing schemes who scammed people and escaped from the country after stealing billions of rupees, Iqbal said.