ISLAMABAD, March 1: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will use central automated online system (COAS) for scrutiny of nomination papers of the candidates for the upcoming general elections to effectively screen out tax evaders, loan defaulters, beneficiaries of written off loans and convicts.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the officials of ECP, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) here on Friday.

Director General (Elections), ECP, Sher Afgan told reporters that a software for this purpose would shortly be developed and District Returning Officers (DROs) and Returning Officers (ROs) would be imparted training to efficiently use it.

He said the ROs concerned after receiving the nomination papers would immediately transmit them to the ECP, which will send them to the institutions involved in the scrutiny process.

On receiving the reports, the ECP will send the information back to the ROs to help them decide on acceptance and rejection of nomination papers.

He said specific information would be obtained from FBR, SBP and NAB on the credentials of the candidates, with the ECP acting as a bridge between these institutions and the ROs – who are supposed to hold scrutiny under the law.

He said the law provides six days for submission of nomination papers and seven days for scrutiny of the same.

He said the exercise would start soon after the beginning of process for receiving nomination papers.

He said another meeting with the technical official of Federal Board of Revenue, State Bank of Pakistan and National Accountability Bureau would be held on March 6 to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the scrutiny exercise, which would be placed before the Election Commission for approval.

Asked how will the utility bills defaulters would be tracked, he said, the candidates will be required to provide copies of the last paid bill.

Another official of the ECP said the nomination papers of all the candidates would be placed on the ECP’s website, so as to enable the constituents to challenge any mis-declaration, and make the process of scrutiny more transparent and credible.

Replying to a question, he said the candidates would file declarations with their nomination papers in which they would undertake that they were not being hit by any disqualification, and if proven false, they could be de-seated at any stage.

He said any wrong declarations amounts to commission of corrupt practice and those found responsible for it would not only lose their seats but also have to face criminal proceedings.

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