Distribution of aid among flood victims questioned

Senate panel informed Rs70b given to flood-hit families by BISP without new survey


Haseeb Hanif December 07, 2022
People retrieve bamboos from a damaged house following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Dera Allah Yar, district Jafferabad, Balochistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD:

The Senate Standing Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Security was informed on Tuesday that Rs70 billion had been distributed among the flood victims without conducting a new survey.

The meeting of the standing committee was held at the Parliament House under the chairmanship of Senator Naseebullah Bazai.

In the meeting, aid given to the flood victims by the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), the matter of public importance raised by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan in the Senate meeting held on November 12, 2021 regarding the performance of the institution of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, and the closure of funds of Pakistan Baitul Mal in Balochistan province were reviewed in detail.

The meeting was informed in detail about the aid given to the flood victims by the BISP. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had announced an aid of Rs25,000 per family for the relief of the flood victims.

“Rs70 billion was distributed among 2.8 million flood-affected families.”

The BISP provided relief according to the data obtained from NADRA and the relief work was started on September 19, 2022.

The committee was informed that 78 districts of the country were affected by the 2022 floods, including 34 districts of Balochistan, 19 districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, three of Punjab and 22 of Sindh.

The standing committee was told that 2.41 million flood-affected families of Balochistan, 1.8 million of Sindh, as well as 300,000 each of K-P and Punjab were given assistance but due to lack of funds, countless victims were yet to receive assistance.

Officials said of the Rs103 billion budget requested for provision of aid to flood-affected families, only Rs70 billion were provided.

The committee decided that the issue will be further reviewed in the presence of the federal minister concerned and the NDMA in the next meeting.

In the meeting, Senator Mushtaq said PPAF is a very important institution. “A special committee was formed in the Upper House under the chairmanship of late Senator Usman Kakar, which visited the backward areas of the country and compiled a detailed report, according to which there is a lot of poverty in the backward areas of the country.”

“Interest-free loans of Rs17 billion have been given by this institution in the country. What is the time for their return, amount, and rate? How much has been spent on health and education? And what percentage of poverty has been reduced in the country due to the actions of this institution, what steps have been taken to prevent corruption and what strategy has been adopted to make such institutions non-political?

The PPAF CEO informed the committee that the budget provided to the organisation during the last five years was low and grants were received from donors.

“The PPAF is working in 147 districts for rehabilitation, drinking water and other welfare works and 95% of the loans given are recovered. So far, 1.8 million people have been facilitated.”

Senator Mushtaq said, “It is better to review the affairs of this institution in the presence of the minister concerned.”

The committee was informed that the issue of determining the public sector or private sector of this institution was in the high court. The committee members said to contact the attorney general or the deputy attorney general to get the judgment report as soon as possible. The status should also be determined, they added.

Further, Pakistan Baitul Mal Managing Director Amir Fida Paracha said, “Last year, a budget of Rs6.5 billion was given, but this year, Rs6 billion has been allocated due to which numerous relief and aid works are facing difficulties.”

Paracha said the Pakistan Baitul Mal increased the budget for health and education in Balochistan from Rs74 million to Rs99 million.

“The budget of Rs49.6 million to prevent child labour has been increased to Rs63 million and for the empowerment of women in Balochistan province, the budget of Rs59 million has been increased to Rs101 million.”

He said only problem was that the previous government had made plans for shelters and shelter homes, assuring an additional budget for it while the finance ministry had also asked for a supplementary grant of Rs1 billion. It could not be released, he said, so the institution had to make cuts from the ongoing projects.

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