The government has referred cases against more than 2,000 government employees to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) so that action may be taken against their illegal actions of benefiting from the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
This was revealed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Accountability Shahzad Akbar during a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Akbar said the government has also written to all chief secretaries and the Establishment Division for taking departmental action against, and recovering funds from, the government officers who benefited from BISP, which is aimed at providing financial support to the deserving poor and destitute.
Earlier in December, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Sania Nishtar had warned that the details of government employees or their spouses who were undeserving beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), identified in a move to make the programme more transparent, would be sent to relevant departments for legal action.
According to the details, the majority of the cases (33.81 per cent) of undeserving beneficiaries were found in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa followed by 29.67 in Punjab, 22.32 in Sindh, 5.52 in Balochistan, 5.0 in erstwhile FATA, 2.12 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 1.01 and 0.26 per cent in Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad respectively.
It may be noted here that a major chunk of the 140,000 people who illegally benefited from the BISP were government employees of grade 1 to 16 while the rest (2,037) were officers of grade 17 to 22.
Giving a breakdown of the cases identified across the country, SAPM Akbar said the number of government employees of grade 17 and above whose spouses fraudulently benefited from BISP was nine in Azad Kashmir and 40 in Gilgit-Baltistan. As many as 554 officers or their spouses benefited from the programme in Balochistan, 342 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 101 in Punjab and 938 in Sindh.
A total of 39 employees of grade 1 to 16 and four officers of grade 17 and above who worked for BISP itself benefited from the programme; they have now been fired. Among employees of the federal government, this number was 48.
He also revealed the names of several officers from the education department in Balochistan who had two wives, both of whom were benefiting from BISP.
Akbar explained that during the past month, the government decided to ask the FIA to register criminal cases against the government officers and the people who assisted them in the corrupt practice as they had drawn out the funds from the federal budget.
“This is a lack of transparency of the system and its regulations that this went on for years and the officers continued to withdraw money,” Akbar said, adding that it was important to “name and shame” people who consumed funds meant for the poor.
Digital payment mechanism with bio-metric verification is in place now for the BISP beneficiaries that will reduce the chances of identity theft and fraudulent withdrawals.