KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been assigned an investigation into the embezzlement of the aid money being given to the flood victims under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
This was stated by Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Shazia Atta Marri on Tuesday at a press conference held on the premises of the Sindh Assembly.
“As many as 48 cases had been registered in Sindh on the complaints of deduction from the aid money being given to the flood-affected people under the BISP,” she said, adding that a number of people involved in the racket had also been arrested.
Ms Marri also said that since disbursement of money was done through biometric system, there was also a risk of cybercrime, so the matter was referred to the FIA after receiving eight to 10 complaints.
Says 48 cases registered; Rs25.49bn distributed among 1.12m families
“With the help of the FIA, the persons who made illegal deductions have been arrested and the aid money has also been recovered from them,” she said.
She said the flood victims complained that the BISP officials or agents involved in cash transfer were deducting Rs3,000 as service charges, which was criminal.
The federal minister said that besides the deduction of Rs3,000 as service charges, crooks were also reported to have been swindling money out of the flood victims through auto withdrawal by using their biometric identity.
She said that an investigation was under way to ascertain how the culprits managed to obtained thumb impressions of the flood victim to embezzle the aid money through auto withdrawal.
Shazia Marri said that illegal deductions from the aid amount of Rs25,000 being given to flood victims through the BISP would not be tolerated and a zero tolerance policy had been adopted on that from the very beginning.
She said the recent rains and floods had caused widespread destruction in the country, severely affecting parts of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.
Minister Marri said 33 million people had been displaced by the floods and the number of the flood victims was more than the population of many countries. “No country can escape from the ravages of the climate change, but the sad thing is that the countries which do not participate in the climate change have suffered a lot,” she added.
She said the climate change had left a devastating impact on Pakistan. “Pakistan contributes less than one per cent of carbon emissions and since the rich and developed countries are responsible for such emissions, they should step forward and help the flood victims,” she demanded.
Ms Marri said the sufferings of the flood victims were more than imagined and added that the attention of the world had finally turned towards Pakistan to help the victims. “International organisations, including the United Nations, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, World Food Programme and other bodies have given full support and aid to the people affected by the floods,” she said.
The federal minister said the federal government was doing everything possible to help the affected people, but the floods were so massive that it was difficult for any government to control such a disaster. “Rehabilitating the victims in their homes is the main priority of the government,” she added.
Ms Marri said the victims were first aided through the BISP in the country. “Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced Rs25,000 per family of the flood victims, which was initiated on Aug 19 in Balochistan,” she said, adding that later the relief money was distributed among the victims through the BISP in Sindh, KP and Punjab.
She said that so far Rs25.49 billion had been distributed among more than 1.12 million families.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2022