LAHORE: The Women On Wheels (WOW) project initiated by the former government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is going towards a failure as it could not meet its targets due to lack of proper baseline study and unstructured finances, Pakistan Today learnt on Friday.
This was revealed in a Monitoring and Evaluation report of the project conducted last month, focusing on pilot projects in five different districts.
According to the report, there has been a score of misappropriation found which caused the delay in the completion of the project.
The report stated that the project was initially approved at the cost of Rs90 million while the actual expenditures were Rs83.40 million, with an estimated 93 per cent cost utilisation.
For a total number of 3026 motorbikes, Rs80.09 million was to be paid by Punjab government through Bank of Punjab (BoP). Moreover, Rs9.91 million was allocated for media coverage of which Rs7.83 million (79 per cent) has been utilised as through Directorate General of Public Relations (DGPR).
The project initiated by the government’s Strategic Reform Unit (SRU) which was headed by its then director general (DG) Salman Sufi. The said project was approved by the Planning & Development (P&D) Department on March 1, 2017. However, the report stated that even after the passage of one and a half year, the project only received 718 (24 per cent) applications for motorbikes.
This includes 250 applications from Lahore, 50 from Faisalabad, 86 from Multan, 98 from Sarghoda and 34 from Rawalpindi. However, only 240 motorbikes have so far been distributed to the successful candidates, the report said.
“A total of 240 bikes were distributed; 109 bikes were distributed at Faisalabad, 98 were distributed at Lahore,23 were distributed at Multan and 10 bikes were distributed at Sargodha. The 240 beneficiaries included 48 students, 8 self-employed, 175 employed and 9 others,” it said.
The evaluation report observed that the project design did not employ any social mobilisation strategy for awareness about the distribution of motorbikes, therefore the main target of receiving of eligible 3026 applicants was not achieved in five planned districts of Punjab.
Report further stated that in PC-I, it was planned to collect women empowerment data, however, the department did not collect any data to assess the impact of distribution of motorbikes on women’s issues related to mobility.
Data on social benefits including self-reliance, respectable mode of travelling, easy mobility and others were not collected from the eligible applicants. “Baseline data of interested women for motorbikes in 5 districts as per selection criteria including income level, education, education, children going to school and present mode of mobility was not collected by the department,” stated the report.
It added that the regular progress review or internal monitoring was not observed for the project pertaining to its targets at Transport Department.
SRU’s former DG while talking to Pakistan Today termed monitoring report as ‘flawed’ and said that it is biased as written with a purpose of opposing pro-women initiatives.
He said that the project was never about fulfilling a specific scope. “The object was always the enhancement of women’s mobility and awareness. A major portion of the funds allotted has still not been spent is still with the government as only part of it was spent to procure bikes that have already distributed,” Sufi added.
He further added that SRU spent only money that was according to applications received while rest was marked and was given back the government for future expansion.
On a question he said that the eligibility criteria were kept very strict by the government was involved so the fewer candidate could qualify. “The criteria would have to be made more lenient for the expansion,” he added.
Sufi said he does not agree with the report’s claim that Rs8 million spent on media coverage was sufficient since it could hardly cover three to five days of in case of advertisements being made on television.
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