WEB DESK: Federal Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid on Tuesday informed Senate that the government was ready to disclose the details of persons/firms, who had obtained loans of Rs 5 million from National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) during the last five years, in an in-camera briefing.
The lawmakers from both sides of the aisle including chairman Senate Raza Rabbani took serious notice of an earlier reply submitted to the house where NBP had plainly stated that it could not disclose the name of its clients.
Rabbani said that the NBP was duty-bound to share the information with the House, adding that it could not say that it is private information which can not be shared with the House.
The chairman wanted to give a ruling on the earlier reply of the NBP, but reserved his ruling after the Law and Justice Ministry categorically stated the latest reply from the bank is that it had agreed to share the details with the Senate in an in-camera briefing.
“I reserve my ruling as the House prevailed and NBP has agreed to share the details with the House as earlier it had completely shut the door.
It had categorically said that parliament or no parliament, we’re not going to share the information, which was not acceptable,” he added.
The minister said that the bank will provide the latest information of the loans that have been sanctioned during the last five years.
The opposition leader in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan questioned that if the money of the poor is funnelled out, can a bank say that it can not share the information with the parliament. “There is no such law, under which a bank can hide the information of borrowers with the parliament,” he added.
According to Senator Saleem Manadviwala of PPP, the issue is bad debt, which is a common practice throughout the globe.
He said that it was the right of the NBP to write off the loans. However, another PPP Senator Taj Haider disagreed with him, and said that if a person or firm goes on default, the banks should sell out the collateral instead of adopting different ways to get the loans written off at the cost of taxpayers.
He insisted there should be legislation to bridge loopholes so that the banks could recover the money from defaulters by selling out the collaterals.
Senator Usman Khan Kakar of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami party (PKMAP) said that the NBP loans had always been used as political bribe by different governments.
A bank should know that it can not hide the details of the borrowers from the elected representatives of people, he added.
Senators NNoman Wazir Khattak, Lieutenant General Abdul Qayyum (Retd) said that there should be legislations in this regard, as billions of rupees of the government as well as that of commercial banks have so far been waived off by different governments under one pretext or the another.
Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, who raised the issue through a motion, said that if the details were not shared with the parliament, it will become clear that it has no importance, adding we want the details which government had waived off loans and how much.