ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) led federal government has decided to initiate thorough investigation in alleged financial mismanagement and corruption cases in the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
Enver Baig, who heads the BISP, discussed the nuts and bolts of the matter with National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry this week.
Instances abound of violation of public procurement rules, induction of employees on the basis of personal whims, poor book-keeping and flouting of procedures laid down for use of public money. The misuse of authority has forced the current management of the programme to get these cases investigated by the NAB.
“The magnitude of financial mismanagement and corruption have forced us to enlist NAB’s help. We will use its technical expertise for investigation and bring the culprits to book,” a BISP official privy to the meeting between Mr Baig and Mr Zaman told a private TV channel.
The official said the BISP management had decided to approach NAB to sift through documentary evidence which, according to preliminary findings, made clear that financial irregularities were committed.
Although government auditors pointed out unlawful spending and in some cases financial fraud in the BISP, “we decided to go for a third party probe to fix individual responsibilities”.
To a query, the BISP official replied: “Only NAB has the expertise to squeeze those involved in white collar crimes and bring looted money back.”
In most cases, violation of Public Procurement Regulation Authority (PPRA) rules was committed by the previous BISP management. For example, the PPRA rules call for stringent and transparent procedures even for the spending of Rs500,000, but in the BISP’s case billions were spent with impunity.
Advertising companies were chosen purely on the basis of favouritism and then billions were released to them and no records maintained.
“We have records in the BISP that over the last five years Rs3.15bn was paid under the head ‘media campaign’, but the office isn’t in possession of payment details,” said the BISP official.
In one instance, a company was awarded a contract worth Rs1.467bn for advertisement of the programme, but there was no explanation to justify selection of that company for the job.
In another case, highlighted by the in-house audit, a contractor was paid Rs835 million in excess for delivering the BISP message to the poor.
These cases needed NAB’s assistance so as to determine how much of these transactions was siphoned off in commissions.
Yet another example given was that 24 consultants were hired for the programme, but no justification was given. They were paid big cash awards without rhyme or reason. Cars were purchased for favorite employees in violation of rules.
Attempts to get a version of Farzana Raja, a former BISP chairperson and member of the National Assembly, were not successful.
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