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Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed has said that Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) had been misused in the past and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has removed 2,543 officers of various grades from the program.

The minister Wednesday told this to the National Assembly during the question hour session, saying that 449 officers of grade-17, 342 officers of grade-18, 302 officers of grade-19 and 20 officer of grade-20 from Sindh were removed from the BISP. He said that many undeserved people were taking funds and benefits from the BISP. He said those people were taking funds who have visited various foreign countries. He said those people also took benefit from the programs who are owners of shops in commercial markets.

However, according to the list available with Business Recorder, a total of 1446 officers of grade-17 including 48 officers of federal government, 523 from Balochistan government, 88 from Punjab government, 288 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 449 from Sindh, 17 from AJK and 27 from Gilgit-Baltistan. A total of 604 officers of grade-18 including 10 from federal government, 90 from Balochistan, 45 from Punjab, 94 from KP, 342 from Sindh, 3 from AJK and 19 from Gilgit-Baltistan were beneficiaries of the BISP. A total of 429 officers of grade-19 including one from federal capital, 99 officers from Balochistan, 04 from Punjab, 19 from KP, 302 from Sindh and 02 from each AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.

A total of 61 officers of grade-20 were removed from BISP including 02 from the federal capital, 27 from Balochistan, 02 from Punjab, 29 from Sindh, one from Gilgit-Baltistan while 03 officers of grade-21 including 01 from the federal government and 02 from Balochistan were also removed.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said the BISP was launched for the poorest segment of the society. However, he regretted that non-deserving families were made part of it. He said credit goes to the present government which excluded over 800,000 (eight hundred thousand) non-deserving families from the program.

He clarified that these families were excluded after a proper scrutiny and survey. He made it clear that 800,000 deserving families will be made part of the cash support program.

In a written reply to a question, the minister said that a total of Rs 56.35 billion funds were released during the first three quarters of financial year 2018-19 which is 50 % of total budget of allocation. He said that the budget allocated for Ehsaas program for financial year 2019-20 is Rs 180 billion. He said that an amount of Rs 5 billion is allocated for Interest Free Loan (IFL) Program under Ehsaas in the budget of financial year 2019-20.

He said that BISP is serving extreme poor of Balochistan who are eligible according to its transparent targeting criteria. He said that BISP would extend its subsistence allowance called Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) to 196,115 beneficiaries in Balochistan during FY 2019-20. He said that the amount allocated exclusively for Balochistan under UCT is Rs 5 billion (approximately) during this period which is roughly 4% of the total BISP unconditional cash transfers.

The minister said that BISP has also earmarked Rs 185 million for disbursement to eligible children under its Waseela-e-Taleem Program which incentivizes poor families to enroll their out-of-school children (4-12 years). He said that furthermore, budget to the tune of Rs 338 million (approximately) has been allocated for poverty data collection through the National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) update in Balochistan during 2019-20.

The National Assembly was also informed that an amount of Rs 2108.26 million has been utilized by Pakistan Baitul Mal during the first six months of current fiscal year for the welfare of the poor.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan told the House that Rs 5,653 million have been allocated to Pakistan Baitul Mal for the current fiscal year. He said more funds under this allocation will be made available to the organization in the coming months to go ahead with its pro-poor initiatives.

The minister pointed out that the government has also launched Ehsaas program under which deserving students are also being given scholarships.

Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood also told the House that a special program for the skill development of the youth is being launched today (Thursday) under the direction of the Prime Minister. He said under this program, 70,000 youth will be trained in the next 20 months in diverse fields. He assured that the youth of Balochistan will be fully accommodated in this training program.

He said that the government is focusing to improve the access, quality and relevance of higher education. He said, "This year we also plan to provide 50,000 scholarships to undergraduate students."

Responding to another supplementary question, Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood clarified that no change has been made in the examination system of metric and intermediate. He said, "We are considering reintroducing the board exams of class eight. We have also prepared a time table under which the boards of education will announce results before 15th August."

Later, as many as 21 bills were introduced in the House of which 4 bills were withdrawn and one was rejected on private members day. So, the Speaker referred 16 bills to relevant standing committees of the house. These included: The Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2020; The Right to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill; The Constitution (Amendment) Bill (Article 31); The Minorities Educational Seats Bill; The Institute of Art and Culture (Amendment) Bill; The Constitution (Amendment) Bill (Article 251); The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill Section (510); The Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Bill; The Constitution (Amendment) Bill (amendment in Third Schedule); The Constitution (Amendment) Bill (Article 140A); Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill (Section 292); The Elections (Amendment) Bill; The Minorities Access to Higher Education Bill; The Juvenile Justice System (Amendment) Bill; and The Islamic Development Bank (Amendment) Bill, etc.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


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