ISLAMABAD: After completing merely a year as chairman of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Enver Baig has resigned from this position.
Mr Baig held a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif here on Tuesday and submitted his resignation which was accepted.
He has now been shifted to comparatively lowly position of the chairman of Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC).
Although Mr Baig after joining the PML-N had developed good rapport with Mr Sharif, other senior leadership of the ruling party never accepted him as one their owns. Throughout his stint as BISP chairman, a signature pro-poor initiative of his erstwhile party, Mr Baig’s hands remained virtually tied and never allowed to operate freely.
When asked Mr Baig confirmed that “it’s unfortunately true as BISP chairman I could hardly play my due role in making the programme more vibrant because of a number of factors”.
He, however, refused to speak about difficulties he had to face as BISP chairman. He said the sole reason he had told the prime minister to change his assignment was the lack of effective control over running the affairs of the programme.
A former PPP senator, and trusted aide to the late Benazir Bhutto, Mr Baig had joined the PML-N in 2012.
Sources privy to Mr Baig’s resignation told Dawn that considering him as an outsider and BISP being all about money distributor Mr Baig remained under iron-fist control of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
Mr Baig had formally been told from the prime minister side since his appointment in November last year to operate through the finance minister’s office. As a result, for every minor thing Mr Baig had to seek Mr Dar’s consent, which, according to an insider, became the reason of his quitting the job.
The position of BISP chairman is considered to be far bigger in profile and political nuance than the position Mr Baig has now got in the PIDC.
During first five to six months after holding the position of BISP chairman Mr Baig had to battle against the then secretary of the programme, Haseeb Athar, who always looked towards Mr Dar for orders than his immediate boss.
In March this year Rab Nawaz replaced Mr Athar as BISP’s principal accounting officer without the consent of Mr Baig. Mr Nawaz held the position till July and during this period he couldn’t develop a working relationship Mr Baig.
Mr Baig was not comfortable also with Shabbir Ahmad who worked as BISP’s acting secretary from July to September. According to an official of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Baig more than once sent letters to the finance minister against Mr Ahmad but to no avail.
From September to the third week of November, the important position of BISP’s secretary remained vacant, literally making Mr Baig dysfunctional.
Mr Baig repeatedly sent letters to the finance minister for the appointment of secretary of his choice. But, again, his requests remained fruitless.
Now, despite Mr Baig’s sheer opposition, Mr Shabbir has returned to BISP as full time secretary only to rub salt into his wounds.
“I think, this proved to be a turning point after which Mr Baig considered it appropriate to leave the position instead of holding it just for ceremonial purpose,” the official added.
In his regular correspondence, Mr Baig kept highlighting that how frequent change of people at the position of secretary and their lack of understanding of peculiar nature of the work had caused embarrassment for BISP before its international partners.
“The BISP board is supposed to meet at least four times in a year according to BISP Act, 2010, but during this calendar year couldn’t hold a single meeting which depicts serious inefficiency and incompetence on the part of successive secretaries”, Mr Baig wrote in one of his letters which he forwarded to the finance minister.
More seriously, Mr Baig had informed the finance minister that during last financial year the BISP had failed to clear pending liabilities of over Rs1 billion, and during first quarter of the current year it had failed to meet its target of payments to 4.7 million beneficiaries because successive secretaries had failed to make agreements with commercial banks for the purpose.
Rana Asad Amin, a spokesperson for the finance minister, wasn’t available for his comments over Mr Baig’s concerns which every now and then he had been conveying to Mr Dar.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2014