September 19, 2014

Salaries of 3,000 BISP employees held up

ISLAMABAD, Aug 19: Thousands of employees of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) have not received their salaries for last two months as the new government has not allocated funds for it in the budget 2013-14, The News learnt on Aug 16.

The crisis is likely to worsen from next month as 5 million families are expecting the next instalment of Rs3,600 after three months in September.

If the government does not resolve this lingering issue then they would not be able to draw this amount at a time when inflationary pressures have increased in the wake of rising POL and electricity prices. “Over 3,000 employees of BISP all over the country are unable to draw their salaries for the last two months. Even the recent Eid has passed without getting monthly remuneration,” sources in BISP confirmed. The BISP was the brainchild of the PPP-led regime and once considered as the previous regime’s most effective instrument to implement social protection programme with the blessings of the donors as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and USAID.

But the programme also drew criticism from opposition parties who labelled it as an instrument to lure political support by utilising national exchequer.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had announced an allocation of Rs75 billion for the Income Support Programme in his budget speech, apparently with the intention to change the name of the BISP. However, this requires amendment by an act of the parliament. “One possible solution could be promulgation of presidential ordinance to change the name of BISP to enable the authorities to release its allocated amount. It will also give ample time to the PML-N government to table the required amendment for BISP’s title change,” said the sources. At the moment, there has been no competent authority present in the BISP as post of the chairperson as well as secretary has fallen vacant. The tenure of Secretary BISP Sher Khan has expired so currently there is no one to look after the affairs of this department, official sources affiliated with the BISP said.

The PML-N-led government has chosen to be silent on this crisis like situation for 5 million beneficiaries’ families. The situation for some projects employees attached with BISP has been more worrisome because they were unable to draw salaries for the last four months.

While no one in BISP was available for comment, a top Finance Division official told the News that in budget 2013-14 the name of BISP was changed to National Income Support Programme (NISP). However, the Finance Division refused to allocate funds for the newly named programme due to the change of name to NISP. The official said that just ahead of Eid, Secretary Finance Dr Waqar Masood Khan had allowed appropriation on the name of BISP but so far the secretary Cabinet Division had not granted its sanction so the issue remains unresolved.

Published by Daily The News on Aug 17, 2013

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