APP53-29 ISLAMABAD: January 29 - Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Advisor to PM on Information & Broadcasting and Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister jointly addressing a press conference at PID Media Centre. APP photo by Irfan Mahmood

ISLAMABAD, Jan 29 (APP):Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability (SAPM) Shahzad Akbar Wednesday revealed names of 2,037 officials, from grade 1 to 22, getting stipends of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) unlawfully, one way or the other.

“In some cases, the officials were getting BISP stipends directly against their names, while some had included their spouses in the beneficiaries’ list,” he said while addressing a news conference along with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan here.

He said the names appeared in the list after a detailed data verification carried out by the BISP in collaboration with National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to identify fraudulent elements.

The data of BISP beneficiaries has been divided into two categories from grade 1-16 and grade 17-22. However, interesting facts have been revealed during the verification process as in most of the cases the government officers’ having two wives both of them received the same stipend,” he added.

Shahzad said such initiatives in every regime were designed to help the masses living below the line of poverty as it was a social welfare project. He said the Grade 17-22 officers had deprived the people of their rights who were dying of malnutrition and destitute households.

He noted that grade 17-22 officers’ cohort that were receiving many perks and privileges from the government. “BISP should have been kept transparent and free from misappropriation whereas the federal government took the decision to confirm the veracity of the projects beneficiaries.”

The SAPM on Accountability gave the credit to Dr Sania Nishtar and her team for working on the verification of the data.

A total of 140,000 beneficiaries were government employees who had withdrawn the BISP stipend including their spouses. However, the 2,037 officers and their better halves were among those who applied for the BISP registration and successfully received the stipend after biometric verification and its evidences were available with the BISP.

The federal government, he said had decided to initiate departmental action against these public servants and had written a letter to the Establishment Division in this regard.

Moreover, their cases had been referred to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe it as the fraud cases since the budgetary transactions were made from the federal government’s kitty, he added.

“Name and shame of such people is necessary as the corrupt earlier had to hide their identity if found involved in such wrongdoings whereas at present, these people feel pride which is regrettable,” he maintained.

While mentioning the region-wise statistics of fraudster BISP stipend recipient, the SAPM said Sindh province had taken the lead where grade 17-22, as many as 938 officials including 50 officers were directly receiving the BISP stipend and 888 public servants were among those whose wives were BISP beneficiaries.Majority of these officers belonged to the Education department, he added.
The Balochistan province remained in the second place with 554 (Grade 17-22) government officers receiving BISP stipend where 17 officers were directly benefitting through the BISP and 537 senior government officers were those whose wives were the beneficiaries of it.
“Among the 17 direct beneficiaries, four grade-18 female officers were from education and health departments including Razia Kakar (Health department), Rehana Yasmeen (Education department), Nasim Bibi (Education department) and Sheran Parveen (Education department). Besides, a grade-20 officer of the Education department Fazal ud Din was among those senior officers whose two spouses had received BISP stipend of Rs 93,000 each.
Shahzad said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was in the third place with a total of 343 public servants of grade-17 and above receiving the BISP stipend in different ways and all of them were women. At least, 16 government officials got direct BISP stipend whereas 327 officer’s spouses were the beneficiaries with most of them from the education department, he added.
A grade-18 officer of Education department Saad Ullah Khan’s two spouses got Rs198,000 stipend each and similarly two wives of Noor Ali Shah (grade-17) received Rs 136,000 and Rs 127,000 respectively.
Almost 101 grade-17 and above officers in Punjab province were BISP beneficiaries where 11 public servants were directly receiving the BISP stipend whereas 90 officers’ spouses were the BISP beneficiaries including those having two better halves, he said.
Shahzad Akbar said around 54 BISP officials were also involved in illegally getting the BISP stipend where four of them were of grade 17-22 officers and 49 belonged to grade 1-16 who were withdrawing the stipend.
“The four BISP officers whose spouses got benefitted through BISP stipend are Syed Fazle Amin, Muhammad Nouman Zaheem, Sabeel Khan and Shafi Ullah who have been terminated from their services and 49 others from grade 1-16 government servants were also terminated,” he added.
He said 48 officials of grade-17-22 from the federal government availed the BISP stipend. Around two female government employees from different departments directly received the stipend whereas 46 officers’ spouses had benefitted from the BISP including a grade-20 officer Khial Zad Gul of Religious Affairs whose spouse got BISP stipend, he added.
“No government officer himself benefitted the BISP rather their spouses received the stipend who were 40 in number mostly from education, health and other sectors in Gilgit Baltistan,” Shahzad Akbar mentioned.
The two wives of grade-22 officer Muhammad Imran were getting the BISP stipend, he added.
To a question, he said a system had been place in the BISP database which after NADRA verification further checked the eligibility of the beneficiaries. “We are also working on to check how the senior government officials get their wives registered to get the stipend, he added. The BISP system was not foolproof and needed to be reviewed, he said.
SAPM Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said it should be kept in mind that the present government had made the commitment to reform the system.
The wrongdoings in the BSIP system showed the past governments corruption which would be removed as part of the reforms agenda, she added.