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A parliamentary panel on Tuesday slammed chairman Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) for skipping its meeting without any intimation, and dispatched a 'displeasure' note to him to ensure his presence in the next meeting at all costs.
Chairman ERRA Lt-Gen Muhammad Afzal neither turned up in the meeting of National Assembly's Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat nor bothered to intimate it about his other engagements, as the panel was supposed to discuss the aid money which had poured in the country in wake of 2005 devastating earthquake. The committee which met here with MNA Aminul Haq expressed anger over the absence of ERRA boss, saying no one would be allowed to disrespect the Parliament.
"Send him [ERRA chairman] a notice of 'displeasure' as state institutions, particularly the Parliament which is the supreme legislative body, must be treated with respect," said irked Haq. He continued that the ERRA chairman - a serving lieutenant general who is also heading National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) - must ensure his presence in the next meeting and apprise the members of funding and projects.
The committee also sought details of funds spent by ERRA on rebuilding of schools damaged in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2005 earthquake. MNA Ali Khan Jadoon, who had moved a calling attention notice on the issue which was then referred to the committee for further discussion by the NA Speaker, told the panel that 177 schools destroyed in 2005 earthquake in Abbottabad district were not rebuilt despite passage of 14 years. He said that $13 billion foreign funding poured to the country in aftermath of 2005 devastating earthquake but no one knows where the money was spent. He said the committee should be given the details of projects and funds spent on reconstruction of the quake-affected areas.
Secretary Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Ali Raza Bhutta briefed the committee that BISP maintained a National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) - a database of 27 million households. He said the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) created the data after verification and proxy means test calculation with a paper based survey that was done in 2011-12 covering 87 percent of the population.
He said at global level socioeconomic registries are updated after five years, adding BISP has started a new survey to re-certify existing beneficiaries and capture migration patterns.
The new survey would be done with computer tablets and would use Geographic Information System (GIS) and end to end digital solutions, he added. Bhutta said presently the data of socio-economic registry was used for federal and provincial programmes and programmes of health insurance, interest free loans, Punjab Khidmat card, Punjab local government card, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Insaf Card and Balochistan Food Department.
He said under the cash transfer programme, the total disbursement of BISP till June 30, 2019 was Rs 709 billion. A stipend of Rs 5,000 per quarter was given to female members of the 5.05 million beneficiary families. Women who receive stipends spend it on buying of food, education of children and on medicine of their families, he added. Bhutta said in the next stage, the data of BISP would be made live so that beneficiaries could be added or removed from the list.
He said beneficiary families which had 4-12 years old children were given grant of Rs 750 per quarter so that they could send their children to schools. About 3.4 million children are benefiting from the scheme in 50 districts. The secretary informed the meeting that every message sent to mobile users regarding BISP should be reported to it and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
He said the Ehsaas programme was meant to reduce inequality, invest in people and lift lagging districts by leveraging 21st century technology tools. Member committee Ali Nawaz Awan said people of Islamabad had no quota for jobs in offices of the federal capital. He said at one time Islamabad had a population of 600,000 which had risen to 2.2 million and people need jobs and other facilities.
He said the committee should be given report about the jobs given in government departments in Islamabad. An official of Establishment Division informed that the federal cabinet had instructed that Islamabad should be considered a separate entity for provision of jobs. He said 10 percent quota was allocated for residents of Islamabad in offices of Interior Ministry.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2015


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