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PESHAWAR, Feb 16: The NWFP government has hired the services of a non-governmental organisation to run the Bacha Khan Poverty Alleviation Programme because of the inability of public sector institutions to undertake such interventions in the province.

The provincial government, an official told Dawn here on Monday, had selected the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP), an NGO working on poverty, for implementation of the initiative, which was expected to kick off the project activities by the end of the current financial year.

The project, he said, carried an outlay of Rs1.5 billion, of which Rs1 billion was projected to be utilised in the current financial year and the remaining amount in the next fiscal year, adding: “All the funding will be utilised by the SRSP.”

The official said government agencies did not have the required capacity and experience to undertake such kinds of initiatives, adding: “This is why SRSP’s services have been hired for the job because it is already running similar projects in the province.”

A senior executive of the SRSP, when contacted, said all the activities of the project would be carried out by the organisation; however, there would be a project steering committee to be headed by the provincial additional chief secretary to supervise the project.

Audit of the project, he said, would be carried out by private audit firms, but it could also be done by the provincial government, if needed necessary. When asked about the administrative cost of the project, he said: “It will not be more than 10 per cent of the total outlay, which the provincial government has to bear.”

The NWFP government had, in the beginning of the current financial year, earmarked Rs1.5 billion for the NWFP Poverty Alleviation Programme, which has now been named after Khudai Khidmatgar

Movement leader, the late Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan).

The Provincial Development Working Party, the supreme body for approving development projects at the provincial level, had approved the scheme last month, while the administrative approval was expected in a couple of days, the official said.

Following the administrative approval, the official said, funds would be released to the executing agency (SRPS), and it would take at least two months to formally launch the project.

The project would initially be implemented in four districts, Mardan, Battagram, Karak and Upper Dir, said the official, adding selection of the districts for the programme had been made on the basis of poverty profile prepared by the SRSP.

Major components of the poverty alleviation programme would include executing community-based uplift projects, social mobilising, skill development and cash grants to a selected segment of the target areas, the official maintained.

Similarly, he said, implementation of a health insurance scheme in the target districts was also part of the programme, adding consultation with a private insurance company was underway for the purpose.

As per the plan proposed by the insurance company, every household in the target areas would be required to pay Rs200 per month as premium of the insurance policy, and in return they would be given medical cover up to Rs30,000.

The insurance scheme will be taken up as a pilot initiative and if found feasible, it would be extended to other areas of the province, the official added.