Scam blows the lid off corruption in UNICEF-funded GRAP | Pakistan Today

Scam blows the lid off corruption in UNICEF-funded GRAP

A mega scam involving misappropriation of millions of rupees has cropped up in the UNICEF-funded Gender Reforms Action Plan (GRAP) being executed by the Punjab Social Welfare and Women’s Development Department and the Punjab Baitul Maal, Pakistan Today has learnt.
On Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s direction, the Punjab special secretary has taken prompt notice of the matter and Punjab Population Welfare Secretary Javaid Akhtar has initiated an inquiry into embezzlement of Rs 7.6 million allocated for capacity-building training workshops held between April and June 2011 under GRAP. GRAP Project Coordinator Hafiz Ilyas, Assistant Director (Finance) Safdar Abbas Bhakrowi and Accountant Muhammad Boota Shaukat have been charged with misappropriation.
Punjab Social Welfare and Women’s Development and Baitul Maal Secretary Major (r) Shahnawaz Badar has also ordered a separate inquiry headed by Director Administration Abdul Ghafar Sheikh. According to sources in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, the break-up of the money embezzled from UNICEF funds had never been released in an attempt to hush the matter up..
Sources said that Punjab Minorities Minister Kamran Michael, who took additional charge of finance minister recently, had submitted a charge-sheet against the accused officials to the CM. Michael complained that he was not taken on board regarding a women parliamentarians’ workshop on April 6 and only eight parliamentarians attended the workshop, which was a waste of money. According to the charge-sheet, Ilyas revised PC-I without getting it approved from the minister concerned. Michael also accused the GRAP project coordinator of replacing him as Gender Mainstreaming Committee chairman with the Punjab Planning and Development chairman.
He said that the accused also harassed women officers for not passing their budgetary allocations and female interns also had to face sexual harassment. Safdar forcibly called a female gender specialist, who was 7th months pregnant, to the workshop held in Hafizabad on June 16 and threatened her with dire consequences if she failed to abide by his orders. It is an irony that bigwigs of GRAP, which is basically engaged in making legislation to check harassment of women at workplaces, public or private, are involved in sexually abusing female officials.
Sources said that officials had been trying to tamper with records to sweep their wrongdoings under the carpet. After a dismal show at the women parliamentarians’ workshop, the accused officials have been trying to win over members of the provincial assembly (MPA) from Gujranwala and Faisalabad. Sources said that Boota paid the parliamentarians’ hotel bills and later had the money reimbursed from the PMU GRAP funds.
The charge-sheet alleges that officials misused their powers in holding training workshops for both male and female teachers. “Even Grade 8 Accountant Muhammad Boota was designated as a master trainer,” the charge-sheet said. It said that the trainers were given bags made exclusively for the workshop. The event was held in a luxury hotel in defiance of the CM’s austerity drive.
A senior official said that Ilyas and Safdar hired gender specialists for Rs 30,000 to 40,000, promising to pay them once the UNICEF released funds. The official said that those gender specialists were threatened with dire consequences when they asked for their money. He said that the troika in question used government vehicles during their visits and claimed thousands of rupees in traveling allowances from UNICEF. Sources said the troika was so strong that during a mutual agreement between UNICEF and the department, Michael was not invited.
The minister was invited to the workshops in only five districts and deliberately kept absent from important functions in 34 districts. “Ilyas kept the secretary in the dark and managed to have terms of those gender specialists extended who were charged with corruption during the internal audit,” an insider told Pakistan Today. Boota, whose extension period had expired, got his case cleared of ex-Pakistan leave. The official said that Bhakrowi and Boota had been withdrawing thousands of rupees under heads of petrol and maintenance from a vehicle bearing number LHR 5928 for the last two years, although the vehicle had been dumped in a workshop a long time ago.
Contrary to the facility to rent out multi-media for each district, the department’s own device was used but the amount was reimbursed from the UNICEF funds.
According to an official, against a backdrop of the contract extensions to various gender specialists (GS) in districts during June, the accused officials had threatened GSs that if anyone tried to speak against them, they would not be provided with further extensions.
“Boota basically belongs to the Punjab Planning and Development Department and has four vehicles and used number plates of secretaries of various departments to travel to Sheikupura daily,” the official said.
GRAP is a critical output of the Gender Reform Programme launched in August 2002. GRAP is in line with global, national and local commitments of the government to redress gender issues. It is expected to catalyse actions entailing gender mainstreaming in provincial departments. GRAP primarily focuses on institutional change for achieving gender equality.



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2 Comments

  1. UNITED NONENSE said:

    Sorry to all readers, but unfortunately UNICEF themselves (so many staff) are involved in HUGE corruption globally and also ignore, practice and cover up Sexual harassment cases to the point of Employees affected leaving their positions in the allegedly Humanitarian organization,

    Several cases in several countries have been systematically reported and covered up when reported by UNICEF CORRUPTION department in New York who Globally oversee cases reported.
    Remember global population………..you pay UNICEF to carry out work for the less fortunate and they let so many people die while the staff steal.

  2. Seamus tackleberry said:

    Stop the rot and investigate UNICEF also, and prevent the UNICEF FATCATS from facilitating this theft and in some cases taking a cut from the illegal proceeds.

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