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Senate approves bill to establish counter financing authority

ISLAMABAD: Senate Friday approved a bill establishing counter-financing authority, seeking to keep Pakistan off the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list.

The bill titled ‘National Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Authority Bill’ was approved with 28 for and eight against, with strong sloganeering from the opposition benches.

Not only did the opposition parties — Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — express concerns, but ruling parties’ lawmakers Raza Rabbani, Tahir Bizenjo, and Kamran Murtaza also opposed it.

They maintained that hasty legislation would have far-reaching effects and demanded that lawmakers be given time to review the bills.

In her defence, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar — who moved the bill in the upper house — said the bill has already been approved in the National Assembly.

“Under this bill, we will establish an authority [to counter terror financing],” she said, with Pakistan Peoples Party leader Yousaf Raza Gillani saying the legislation was of crucial importance.

Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar told the house that the federal government had given the FATF its future plan when it removed Pakistan from its grey list — on ways to counter terror financing.

Pakistan was listed in 2018 because of “strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies”.

After the government took seriously legislated, the international money laundering watchdog removed the nation from the grey list that warrants increased surveillance for terrorism financing.

PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz said it is impossible for lawmakers to read 12 bills in a day and demanded that they “not be made a rubber stamp legislature”.

“The entire world is making fun of us,” he said.

In her speech on the floor of the National Assembly a day earlier, the state minister said the legislation was of immense importance and, if properly enforced and implemented, it would make sure that Pakistan did not see the FATF grey list again.

Khar said the bill envisages the establishment of a National Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Authority.

She said the chairman of the authority would be appointed by the prime minister.

She said the authority would comprise the finance secretary, foreign affairs secretary, interior secretary, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan chairman, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) DG, Anti-Narcotics Force DG, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman, Financial Monitoring Unit DG, NACTA national coordinator and the chief secretaries of provinces.

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