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NA committee okays Companies Bill 2016

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance on Thursday approved Companies Bill 2016 after a heated debate.

Key committee members belonging to the PML-N, including chairman Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, asked officials technical questions that left them speechless. They criticised the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) for not taking the recommendations of the NA body seriously.

Companies Bill 2016 became controversial after the government promulgated it as an ordinance. However, a resolution in the Senate abolished it.

Earlier, a subcommittee headed by Daniyal Aziz was formed to finalise deliberations over the bill.

Its members included Mian Abdul Mannan of the PML-N, Asad Umar of the PTI and Naveed Qamar of the PPP. Dr Nafisa Shah of the PPP was a special invitee to the subcommittee.

The report of the subcommittee was presented by Mr Mannan. It was highlighted that the matter relating to the powers of the government to remove the chief executive of a state-owned enterprise could not be settled. Dr Shah said the power to remove the chief executive of any public-sector company should rest with the board as a majority of directors belongs to the government.

However, the SECP team tried to convince the committee members and placed the matter in abeyance. It was approved later when the committee voted over the bill.

Another controversial matter discussed in the committee meeting was the mandatory requirement for companies to file annual returns. The members objected that such requirements should be relaxed for small companies.

After detailed discussions, it was decided that those companies that do not face any change in the directors’ or financial sanding will only submit “No change” along with the previous form.

Amendments to Companies Bill 2016 by the subcommittee that have been approved by the Standing Committee include the introduction of strict criteria for foreign holdings by any Pakistani citizen.

In the previous draft, all Pakistanis possessing more than 10 per cent shares in any foreign or offshore company had to disclose details of their investments. But the final draft has abolished this condition and now all foreign investments, including those in offshore companies, have to be disclosed.

However, the clause related to the disclosure of investments by foreigners investing in Pakistan has been abolished.

The requirement to have a national tax number (NTN) has been relaxed for establishing small companies and specialised companies, such as agro-based companies. The new draft of Companies Bill 2016 also allows real estate builders to withdraw money from the separate account established for projects. However, builders will have to maintain international auditing standards.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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