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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday passed the Inter-Governmental Commercial Transactions Bill, 2022 aimed at authorising, negotiating, and supervising inter-governmental agreements between the government of Pakistan and the government of a foreign state for the purposes of entering into business agreements.

The bill moved by Minister for Law Azam Nazeer Tarar is aimed at providing for a mechanism to carry out a commercial transaction under an inter-governmental framework to promote, attract, and encourage foreign states to have economic and business relations with Pakistan.

According to the statement of objects and reasons, there is no legislation for authorising, negotiating and supervising inter-governmental agreements between the government of Pakistan and the government of a foreign state for the purposes of entering into business agreements.

Under the proposed law, the federal government will constitute a Cabinet Committee on Inter-Governmental Commercial Transactions and the primary function of the said panel will be to negotiate and enter into an inter-governmental agreement to allow state-owned enterprises of both countries to carry out a commercial venture either in Pakistan or in a foreign country.

The enactment of the proposed bill is imperative to promote, attract, and encourage foreign states to have economic and business relations with Pakistan.

In order to facilitate inter-governmental economic and commercial transactions, the bill stated that it is necessary to provide for a legal framework and for related matters.

It also says that the federal government may enter into a G2G [government-to-government] agreement with the government of a foreign state for the purposes of this Act.

The G2G agreement will also include broad parameters and mechanism for the execution of an intended commercial transaction.

Unless provided otherwise by the Cabinet Committee, a commercial agreement under the G2G agreement shall be negotiated and executed between the nominated entities of the federal government and the government of the foreign state.

In case of an entity nominated by the government of the foreign state, that government shall have either shareholding or control of the entity.

The Cabinet Committee may authorise negotiations for a G2G agreement between the federal government and the government of a foreign state, besides constituting a negotiation committee for a G2G agreement or a commercial agreement – as the case may be – and approve the price discovery mechanism.

The committee may also recommend approval of the G2G agreement or a commercial agreement finalised by the negotiation committee as well as recommend for relaxations, exemptions, exclusions or concessions from regulatory compliance.

Inter-governmental commercial transactions law: Govt deletes some proposed clauses

The committee may authorize fast-track procurement of services of transaction advisors or consultants and take such decisions necessary for expeditious execution of the commercial transaction.

No act, decision or proceedings of the Cabinet Committee shall be invalid by reason of absence, vacancy or defect in the constitution of the Cabinet Committee.

The bill states that the federal government may issue appropriate directions to a provincial government, local government, agency or authority concerned to implement the objective of the inter-governmental commercial transaction including land acquisition, rehabilitation and re-settlement, provision of utility services, construction of approach roads to the main highways and such other activities of similar nature.

It says that if a person acting on behalf of the federal government or nominated entity has direct, indirect or perceived personal interest in any agreement under this Act, the person shall immediately disclose such interest in writing to the Cabinet Committee and not take part in any consideration on that matter unless the cabinet committee directs otherwise.

According to the bill, no court shall entertain an application, petition or suit against any process or act undertaken or done, intended or purported to be undertaken or done under this Act.

No court shall grant an injunction or entertain any application for an injunction against any process undertaken, intended or purported to be undertaken for a commercial transaction or agreement under this Act.

It says that no suit, prosecutions or any other legal proceedings or action in damages shall lie for anything done, procedural lapses or omission in exercise or performance of any functions, power or duty conferred or imposed by or under this Act or any administered legislation unless the act or omission is shown, beyond reasonable doubt to have been in bad faith.

It further stated that notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, an investigating agency, anti-graft agency, law enforcement agency or a court shall not inquire into or initiate investigation for any procedural lapse or irregularity by any person in a commercial transaction or agreement under this Act unless there exists an evidence of personal monetary gain with corroborative evidence of link between such monetary gain to the undue benefit rendered to any party of the agreement.

“No person shall be sued in his personal capacity for action taken in his official capacity. Any procedural irregularity or lapse shall not affect, vitiate, set-aside, annul or rescind a commercial transaction or a commercial agreement under this Act,” it added.

The bill stated “the provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Companies Act, 2017 (XIX of 2017), Privatization Commission Ordinance, 2000 (LII of 2000), the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Ordinance, 2002 QM of 2002), Public-Private Partnership Authority Act, 2017 (VIII of 2017), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Act, 1997 (Act No. XLII of 1997), Securities Act, 2015 (Act No. III of 2015) or any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument baying effect by virtue of any law other than this Act.

“The Federal Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, make rules for carrying out purposes and giving effect to the provisions of this Act,” it added.

The house passed “The Pakistan Tobacco Board (Amendment) Bill, 2022” aimed at devolving the power of direct purchasing of tobacco to the “administrative division” through the Pakistan Tobacco Board Ordinance Amendment Bill, 2021.

The house offered Fateha for 13 people who were killed in a road accident in district Rahim Yar Khan and four soldiers of the Pakistan Army who embraced martyrdom in recent incidents of terrorism.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers belonging to religio-political parties raised objections over female dance troupes who performed at a function to celebrate Independence Day organised by the Information Ministry.

Saira Bano of Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), Maulana Abdul Akber Chitrali of Jamaat-e-Islami, and Jamaluddin of the JUI-F were unanimous in questioning the performances given by the dance troupes.

Bano questioned, “How can we claim to be compassionate as flash floods have wreaked havoc in Balochistan, but we are enjoying the performances given by the dance troupes”.

This angered NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf who insisted that “we are [a] compassionate people”, and switched off her microphone, which prompted her to point out the quorum, leaving the chair with no option but to prorogue the house.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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