Monday, November 22

Dysfunctional provincial Bait-ul-Maal Council

The Punjab Bait-ul-Maal Council has virtually become dysfunctional owing to non-existent district committees since 2008, while the provincial government is yet to release an annual grant of Rs 100 million as fixed in the fiscal outlay of 2010-11 despite a lapse of about five months since the budget was announced.
Nevertheless, in the absence of the district committee during the last over two years, the all-powerful Council has raised its bar of utilising funds on its own since it has moved from Rs 8.229491m in 2008 to Rs 21.3719m in 2009.
According to a report of the Council, during 2008-09, a grant of Rs 200 million was given by the then PML-Q govt, and the money transferred to the accounts of district committees, but the un-utilised amount is still in their accounts since these were dissolved in the last quarter of 2008.
However, in year 2009, these non-existent committees have utilised an amount of Rs 0.436481m for administrative matters, while not even a single penny has been given to the needy of the districts across Punjab.
From April till December 2008 – when the PML-N led govt held provincial fort – no substantial amount was given to the poor by the then district committees, except a few pending cases were entertained. Especially after May of the same year, no money was given to aid seekers. However, in the first quarter, the district committees gave away Rs 23.362011m to 3375 individuals and entities, which also included administrative expenses of Rs 0.791674m.
So far, the govt has failed in forming district committees as well. As per a report of the Bait-ul-Maal, the district committees were dissolved on October 25, 2010 upon the expiry of the tenure, and consequent upon this, action on applications was also halted. Secondly, nominations were sought from district officers of the Department for instituting the committees at the earliest, but this process could not be completed owing to the reason that certain names were considered to be ill-suited for the task. “Corrections are underway, and as soon as the task will be completed, the nominations will be presented to the Bait-ul-Maal Council for approval, and consequently, the committees will be formed for dishing out monetary assistance to the poor,” says the report.
Due to non-existent committees, piles of applications from the needy have accumulated at the Department’s offices. As per rule, these requests are to be actualised within three months, but according to the Rule 2.3 of the Punjab Bait-ul-Maal Act 1991, if these applications were not considered within six months, these are automatically deemed disposed of.
However, even if the district committees were not formed, the higher-ups have been meeting regularly, and various sub-committees – administrative and finance, meant for judicious distribution of money – at the provincial level were nominated out the 15-member Council. In 2009, the Council met for eight times, whereas two meetings were postponed since these were inquorate; hence no decisions taken. During this period, Justice (r) Akhtar Hassan completed his stint, and Justice (r) Mian Nazeer Akhtar was appointed as ‘Ameen’ of the Council.
However, in 2009, the Council took lead by utilising Rs 21.3719m under expenditures and other heads to 539 individuals and entities. 19 Non-Governmental Organisations have been given Rs 5.7425m, Rs 8.334m to 255 persons, Rs 1.7304 to 88 as education stipend, Rs 3.23m as dowry allowance to 122 persons, Rs 0.55m to 10 physically impaired persons for tri-cycles and Rs 65,000 were given to two individuals for hearing aid and artificial limbs. Moreover, the Council also dished out Rs 1.72m to 43 persons for treatment.
In dire contradiction to 2009, the Council had utilised only Rs 8.229491m in 2008, which was given to 53 persons and organisations.

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