Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

FBR to take action against 196 of its employees for taking BISP benefit

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ISLAMABAD, JAN 28 (DNA) – The Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) has initiated a stern disciplinary action against as many as 196 of its employees who had been benefitting from the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) assistance meant for the poor.

A list formed by the FBR includes seven government officers of grade 17, two of grade 14, 10 of grade 11 and others.

In a post on Twitter, BISP Chairper¬son Dr Nishtar had revealed that (in total) 2,543 government officers of grade-17 and above had got themselves registered among the beneficiaries from the social safety net and recei¬ved the assistance meant for the poorest of the poor. They have been excluded from the programme.

True: 2,543 exited from BISP_Pakistan are government officers/their spouses of Grade 17 and above and their names have been exited,” she had written on her Twitter account, adding that the social safety net had initiated disciplinary action against these officers.

 

The BISP had also written to the provincial chief secretaries and federal ministries whose officers had illegally enrolled themselves as BISP beneficiaries. They were informed that action was underway against those people.

To avoid such irregularities in future, appropriate measures had been taken under the government’s Ehsaas programmer reforms, the BISP chairperson had added.

As many as 1,122 officers of Grade-17 and above from Sindh had been BISP beneficiaries, according to official data, from Balochistan where 741 government officials were signed up for the poverty alleviation scheme, from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 403 government officials availed the BISP funds, and 137 did so from Punjab.

Even from the federal government, 62 officers received the programme funds. Additionally, one officer of the Pakistan Railways, 22 of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and 49 of Gilgit-Baltistan were also observed as undeserving recipients of the BISP. From within the BISP itself, six officers were listed among the beneficiaries.

Out of total 820,165 beneficiaries disqualified from the BISP database, 14,730 were government employees or servants of railways, post office and the BISP programme as the aid was not meant for government servants. According to the data, 127,826 were those whose spouses were government employees or employees of the above-mentioned departments.

Importantly, the government has planned to increase BISP monthly from Rs5,000 to Rs6,000 which would be given in installments, according to Dr Nishtar.

“Every beneficiary would now have a bank account and can withdraw the amount through an ATM card as well,” Dr Nishtar had said.

She had said the BISP has now 4.27 million active beneficiaries after 0.82 million undeserving beneficiaries were delisted, and the stipend would be given to the deserving beneficiaries only.

On Dec. 26, Dr Sania Nishtar had revealed that over 800,000 “non-deserving” beneficiaries of the BISP were disqualified for giving space to the needy people on the basis of promoting transparency and merit.

During a press conference in Islamabad, Dr Sania had asserted that measures have been taken to secure due rights for the deserving people only, and that whole procedure for inclusion in BISP has been made apolitical.

She had said that the disqualification criteria includes travel history of the member, vehicle ownership, availing facility of executive services for passport and National Identity Card (NIC) and service in government sectors.

She had termed inclusion of 216 villages located alongside restive Line of Control (LoC) in Kifalat Program “another milestone of the Ehsaas Programme.”

She had said people of these villages were the most deserving due to their frequent economic losses as due to cross border firing from the Indian side of the border.

On Dec. 24, the federal cabinet had approved removing 820,165 beneficiaries from the BISP database, while terming them as “undeserving”.

Importantly, Dr Sania had also informed the cabinet that in view of some complaints and a need to update the BISP data, the survey was reexamined with the help of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

She had said that during the reexamination some aspects were analysed. For example, she had added, it was ascertained whether the family of a beneficiary had any motorcycle or car or whether a spouse was a government employee. The cabinet was told that those who had over 12 acres of land did not fall in the category of “deserving” people. After the exclusion of 820,165 people, really deserving people would be included in the programme.

The alterations in the BISP database were made after some cabinet members had expressed reservations in the previous meetings claiming that the supporters of opposition parties, particularly those backing the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), were benefiting from the programme, while those belonging to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were being neglected.

Out of total 820,165 beneficiaries disqualified from the BISP database, 14,730 were government employees or servants of railways, post office and the BISP programme as the aid was not meant for government servants. According to the data, 127,826 were those whose spouses were government employees or employees of the above-mentioned departments.

It further revealed that 153,302 among them were those who travelled abroad once and 195,364 were those whose spouses travelled abroad once. The number of beneficiaries who travelled abroad more than once stood at 10,476

Similarly, 166,319 spouses travelled abroad more than once. The BISP removed 692 people as they owned one or more than one vehicle, while 43,746 were deprived of the benefit because their spouses have one or more than one car.

Furthermore, a person who can pay Rs1,000 of telephone bill on monthly basis is not considered “eligible” to get monthly stipend from the programme and, hence, 24,546 people were removed under this category. Likewise, 155,767 were discarded from the database as their spouses paid Rs1,000 or more telephone [PTCL, mobile] bill.

For applying passports via executive centres, 666 beneficiaries were removed and 580 were dropped as their spouses applied passports via executive centres.

A total of 36,970 people were thrown out from the list of BISP beneficiaries because three or more than three members of their family paid executive fees for obtaining CNICs.

Launched in July 2008, the BISP is Pakistan’s largest social safety net, catering to women and benefiting around 5.4 million people, according to data released in 2016. = DNA

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