How Ehsaas Programme Is Depriving Deserving People Of Funds

How Ehsaas Programme Is Depriving Deserving People Of Funds
A few days ago, I received a WhatsApp message from one of my friends which got me sad and astonished. It consisted of detailed personal and professional information of a large number of government servants of higher scales whose wives were found to be beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). Many of the employees I know personally. Besides government jobs, they have other sufficient sources of income.

The report shows that comparatively, the government servants’ salary package is very high. Monthly financial assistance of a BISP beneficiary is equivalent to one daily salary of each of the employee. Despite this, they have not missed an opportunity to violate and infringe the rights of poor deserving women, depriving them of their sole means of financial assistance from the government.

Last year in December, the PTI government removed 820,165 undeserving people from the list of beneficiaries of BISP. According to the PM’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation and BISP chairperson, Dr. Sania Nishtar, 'most of the removed ineligible people were owners of motor bicycles and cars; more than 140,000 of them are government servants and a large number of those are people who traveled to foreign countries with their families.

These undeserving well-off fraudulently got themselves registered as beneficiaries of the assistance on the basis of nepotism. Soon after the establishment of BISP in July 2008, politicians violated the principles of meritocracy and transparency. They got the undeserving people included amongst the beneficiaries in order to give monetary favours to their voters and supporters. Political loyalty was deemed to be eligibility criteria. In this way, deserving women were deprived of financial assistance.

For these unethical activities, not only these undeserving wealthy people are accountable but also the organizations which conducted surveys and verified the collected data to find out deserving beneficiaries for the assistance. If the processes had been carried out transparently, undeserving beneficiaries would have not been included in the lists of the Benazir Income Support Programme and would have not illegally been profiting from this programme.

Under Ehsaas Emergency programme, the emergency fund distributed among poor people who had lost their jobs and had no source of income during lockdown imposed in the aftermath of the outbreak of COVID-19 revealed that data available at BISP is inexact and inaccurate.

It was observed that many government servants and financially sound people were provided with the fund while the most deserving people were deprived of it. My relative, who earns more than two million annually from his own private business, was given the fund. Two of the labourers working at his business were denied the fund saying that they were not eligible for the fund. Another very poor differently-abled person, who was issued a special person CNIC by NADRA, was refused the fund. After verifying his personal data, he was informed through SMS that there was no record of him in the system.

In Pakistan, millions of poor people have been experiencing extreme poverty and have been deprived of basic necessities of life including a clean living environment, schooling and even least healthcare. The well-off people, who rob their rights, are unaware that their corrupt activities seriously affect a whole people. When sky-scraping exploitation combines with poverty, it makes the lives of poor more agonizing.

In Pakistani society, women are the most vulnerable and underprivileged group. Lower and lower-middle-class women have been living miserable and dejected lives with no desire for luxuries of the world. Women hailing from these underprivileged sections of the society find no employment opportunity as sadly no factories, industries, professional and technical institutions, and tailoring and embroidery centres have been established in the rural regions of the country. Thus, there is a huge number of unemployed women in the underprivileged areas of the country.

Viewing the grim situation of these women, BISP had introduced a cash grant project in 2008 to provide poor women with financial assistance on a monthly basis. Every year billions of rupees are distributed with the objective of alleviating poverty and empowering women belonging to the socially and economically marginalized segments of Pakistan.

Initially, the cash grant was Rs.1000 per woman per month and now it is Rs.12000 per woman per quarter. According to 2016 data, around 5.4 million beneficiaries all over the country are being provided with financial assistance.

There is a need to make the process of funds transferring transparent after making the data of beneficiaries accurate. One of the vital initiatives the organization needs to take is to ensure that deserving people are registered to the programme to avail financial assistance. This will help the programme restore the confidence of taxpayers and international donor agencies so that they will feel confident that the money that they give is distributed among the most deserving people. Besides, the government should take the stringent initiative to recover all the plundered money with a huge amount of fine from bogus beneficiaries.