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Employees of BISP without salary for two months

August 28, 2013
— File photo
— File photo

ISLAMABAD: Although the government has allocated Rs70 billion in the budget for the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), its 2,100 employees have not been paid salary for two months because of want of the principal accounting officer, Dawn has learnt.

Similarly, quarterly instalments for beneficiaries of the programme are due in September, but the same cannot be released as along as the accounting head is appointed.

The BISP was launched in October 2008 with an initial allocation of Rs34bn to benefit 3.5 million families. Its allocation for the financial year 2012-13 was raised to Rs70bn to cover 4.5m families constituting 16 per cent of the country’s population and 40pc living below the poverty line. The families are paid cash assistance of Rs1,000 per month on a quarterly basis.

The programme also funds projects like provision of long-term interest-free financial assistance to under-graduate people, vocational and technical training and health and life insurance.

A BISP official said though the programme had been renamed as the National Income Support Programme, no notification had been issued to this effect so far.

“BISP chairperson Farzana Raja was a political appointee and had to quit after her party (PPP) lost the elections and failed to form government at the centre. BISP secretary Mohammad Sher Khan’s contract expired in July and there is no one who can approve and release funds to pay to its employees,” he said.

“We have been releasing billions of rupees to the deserving people for five years, but now we have been working without salary for two months. We request to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take notice since no one is listening to us,” the official said.

Another BISP official said that even acting secretary could not be appointed and as a result there was no correspondence with the establishment division for the appointment of a new secretary.

“Since the name of the BISP has been changed through the Finance Bill 2012-13, a new principal accounting officer has to be appointed to release funds for employees and beneficiaries of the programme,” he said.

BISP’s spokesman Shoaib Khan has been on leave for four months and there is no official to deal with the media in his absence.