ISLAMABAD, May 27: The Asian Development Bank has found serious flaws in the Zakat distribution programme and termed it politicised and vague with poor implementation procedures and no accountability or monitoring system.

The ADB in its report “A Poverty Targeting Strategy for Pakistan” says the institution of Zakat has substantial errors. A major concern affecting the Zakat programme is the heavily politicised framework within which targeting occurs, it says.

Quoting a study, the report states that local Zakat committees manage to select a part of beneficiaries in their jurisdiction and the rest are “pushed through” by local influential people. Political agendas are easily injected into the programme implementation due to excessive discretionary powers conferred on the local committees. Moreover, the programme requires no public disclosure of the final list of beneficiaries and reasons for selecting them, and has no system of appeals or public accountability, the study says.

Politicisation and excessive powers of the committees lead to high levels of corruption. “Studies have shown that under the Zakat programme, beneficiaries need to bribe officials to get the money to which they are entitled. This is the result of an organised mechanism of bribery that ensures leakages to the extent that a deserving person might not receive any money at all. Moreover, payments to subsistence recipients are not made regularly, sometimes for months on end,” the report further says.

The ADB report also points out flaws in the administrative working of the institution of Zakat. It reveals that lack of coordination among the local council head, district committee and administrative staff causes delays in payments and eventually adds to the distress of the poor. Coordination problems, it states, stem from the fact that inter-tier protocol is highly bureaucratic and seems to have neglected the need to maintain a simple and efficient organisational structure, one that minimises bureaucratic intervention.

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