PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Tuesday admitted that over 145,000 people with disabilities in the province have not received the government stipend of Rs3,000 per month for the last three years.
Responding to a question, social welfare minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan told the provincial assembly that his department couldn’t pay monthly stipend to 145,405 persons with different disabilities in three years.
He said the department either didn’t get the required funds or got them too late at the end of the financial year to disburse.
The minister blamed the finance department for late releases.
He said the department released Rs2.97 million in the last month of the financial year 2018-19, so it was not possible for his department to disburse those funds.
Minister tells PA that dept either didn’t get funds or got them too late for disbursement
The minister said the department had to surrender funds to the finance department.
“My (social welfare department’s) responsibility is to submit plan and demand grant and it’s up to the government to ensure timely release of the funds for distribution among the deserving people,” he said.
The minister informed the house that the social welfare department had prepared a plan for the Poverty Alleviation Fund ahead of the outbreak of Covid-19 and all registered people with disabilities were covered by it but the proposed fund was not approved due to financial constraints.
He said the government should prioritise social welfare. The minister agreed that the government should increase monthly stipend for persons with disabilities.
Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, who chaired the sitting, directed the finance department to release funds to the relevant departments before June.
“Releasing funds to departments in May and June is a joke,” he said urging the cabinet to find out a solution to the issue.
Responding to an identical question moved by member of the opposition Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal Inayatullah Khan, minister Dr Hisham Inamullah said his department didn’t have resources, including skilled manpower, to conduct door-to-door survey in the province to register persons with disabilities.
He said the department had planned to start the registration of persons with disabilities in the merged tribal districts during the ongoing financial year.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPA Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha, who raised the question, and other opposition members criticised the finance department over delay in the release of funds and complained that the social welfare department couldn’t give away stipend to the deserving people due to the issue and had to surrender funds.
The lawmakers proposed that the government launch a sustainable programme for the ‘financial rehabilitation’ of persons with disabilities in the province.
During question hour, the MPAs were informed that formation of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status on Women was likely to be completed in the next two weeks.
He said names of shortlisted candidates had been forwarded to the selection committee.
The assembly unanimously passed a resolution demanding of the government to direct the forest department to mark the limits of Makhinal Guzara forests in Haripur district.
The resolution moved by MPA Arshad Ayub said the government should honour the 1872 agreement signed by the relevant department and local communities under which landowners could withdraw from the agreement anytime.
Through another resolution, the house condemned the Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and atrocities by the Indian security forces there, and asked the United Nations to give Kashmiris the right to self-determination.
SEMINARY BLAST: The lawmakers condemned a bomb blast in a seminary of Peshawar and expressed solidarity with the affected families.
They said the government and security agencies should put their heads together and review security in the backdrop of the recent wave of terrorism in the province. The MPAs said targeted killings and attacks on security forces had surged in the last few months.
The assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prison (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
The chair later adjourned the sitting for an indefinite period.
Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2020