By Syed Irfan Raza

Benazir Income Support ProgrammeISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency has claimed to have unearthed corruption of over Rs3.8 billion in the Benazir Income Support Programme launched by the PPP government in 2008 to provide monetary assistance to the poor.

According to an official document available with Dawn, 20 cases of misappropriation of funds, irregular purchase of vehicles, wastage of money, award of controversial contracts, overpayments, irregular procurements, illegal appointments, etc, have been detected.

Insiders told Dawn that the FIA was seeking relevant records for further investigation.

Under the programme, initially an assistance of Rs1,000 per month was given to a family. Later the amount was raised to Rs1,200.

The biggest misappropriation of funds, the document alleges, was made in the name of flood relief. An amount of Rs2.345bn was paid to people unaffected by floods.

Another amount of Rs817.016 million was paid to the National Database and Registration Authority for data entry and verification and for a media campaign on poverty survey public awareness without obtaining prior review and a no-objection letter and vetting of contracts from the World Bank.

Another case involving Rs27.9m is about the award of work for a survey to a firm of chartered accountants.

The BISP management is accused of making an irregular payment of Rs104m as monthly operational charges for deployment of Nadra’s mobile vehicles for CNIC registration of beneficiaries.

According to the document, vehicles costing Rs5.710m were purchased allegedly in violation of the policy regarding official use of vehicles and monetisation policy and official vehicles sold to officials of grade 20 and above at throwaway prices.

The BISP management has been accused in the document of making 80 per cent advance payment of Rs126.35m for a poverty scorecard survey in Balochistan, in violation of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules. The total cost of the project was Rs156m.

The BISP is accused of paying Rs9,000 per person, instead of Rs1,000, in Larkana on political grounds on the third death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto.

The document alleges an illegal transfer of Rs381,000 to personal accounts of provincial directors general and Rs9m to the director general, Balochistan, under Waseela-i-Haq on verbal orders of the BISP secretary.

The document shows overpayment of Rs128.7m to a bank under m-banking arrangement (alternate payment mechanism) due to improper reconciliation of funds disbursed to beneficiaries through the Smart Card.

The BISP management has also been accused of awarding Rs48.049m work to Pakistan Post Foundation Press without open competition for printing information letters for beneficiaries, banners, digital booklets in violation of the PPRA Rules, 2004.

The management is accused of drawing Rs246,000 from the project called ‘Social Safety Net Technical Assistance’ without authorisation and paying the money to the former chairperson as TA/DA advance, POL / CNG and mobile ceiling from the account of the World Bank.

Another case is about non-reconciliation of funds provided to Pakistan Post and commercial banks for disbursement of Rs66m in violation of rules.

The FIA is also investigating a case of overpayment of Rs116.4m to Pakistan Post on account of 57,086 beneficiaries due to delayed / stoppage of payment in violation of BISP rules.

The FIA has found illegalities/irregularities in appointments in the BISP, illegal appointment of officials on deputation in BISP and irregular allowances like house rent and conveyance obtained by the employees.