Peerzadas demand Rs 1 billion from Pakistan Today

Peerzaadas

The Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop has demanded Rs 1 billion from Pakistan Today for “defaming” the group by reporting the termination of aid for its “Sim, Sim Hamara’ program by USAID because of alleged financial irregularities and abuse of aid money.
The legal notice served on the newspaper states that the Rafi Peer group had “adhered strictly and transparently with all USAID compliance guidelines pertaining to procurement, finance and human resource, and all accounts pertaining to the abovementioned heads had been duly subjected to internal and external audits by independent auditors employed by RPTW and USAID and no iota of financial embezzlement, misappropriation and fudging of accounts had been raised against RPTW”.
However, a US State Department spokesman on Tuesday confirmed that funding for the Pakistan Sesame Street Program had been terminated after allegations of fraud and abuse of aid money against the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop were found to be credible. State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said the Pakistan Sesame Street Program totaled $20 million and that $6.7 million has already been spent by the Rafi Peer Theater Workshop.
The project was canceled after several calls were made to an anti-fraud hotline set up by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Pakistan alleging misappropriation of funds. The US looked into the allegations and found them credible. A full investigation is still underway as to how and where the money was spent.
“No one is questioning, obviously, the value and positive impact of this kind of programming for children,” said Toner. “But this is about allegations of corruption.”
“We deemed that the allegations were serious enough that we wanted to suspend or cut off the program until we were able to complete this investigation,” he said.
“We do acknowledge the programming is beneficial, but we had what we believe were credible allegations, so rather than continue to throw good money after bad, we thought it was prudent to cut off this program,” Toner said. “These are valuable programmes teaching kids worldwide values as well as math, reading skills, et cetera. This is simply two very different cases – but in the latest case, in Pakistan, concerns that US taxpayer money was being misused,” he added.

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