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December 2, 2016



KP govt abandons sasta atta, ghee project after meeting 50-pc target

Over Rs2b project fund shifted to Sehat Insaf Card scheme

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led coalition government has abandoned its well-received pro-poor initiative and wrapped up Rs 5 billion sasta atta and ghee project after the initiative benefited over three lakh poorest of the poor families in the province.

The resources allocated to this flagship and much-trumpeted pro-poor initiative of the PTI have been re-appropriated to the Sehat Insaf Card programme after the sasta atta and ghee project achieved 50 percent of its target by catering to the needs of around three lakh households.

The PTI-led coalition government in its 2015-16 budget had allocated Rs7 billion for its pro-poor initiative to provide special package for provision of subsidised flour and ghee to
the poorest-of-the-poor in the province.

The provincial government had taken the baseline data of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) for the distribution of the relief and 743,201 households were identified as poor to get a subsidy of Rs10 per kilogram on purchase of 40 kg flour and Rs40 per kg on five kg ghee per month.

The families, who secured 16.1 points on the BISP chart that rated them as poorest-of-the-poor, were being issued two vouchers of Rs600 per month through which they could purchase these commodities from their nearby Utility Stores.

The initiative was designed to target 55,673 beneficiaries in Bannu, 79,960 in DI Khan, 90,475 in Hazara, 47,007 in Kohat, 118,019 in Mardan, 152,407 in Peshawar, while as 271,202 poor families benefit from the programme in Malakand division.

The scheme could not take off as per programme because of a variety of issues including delay in printing of vouchers and distribution of smart cards by cellphone company.

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak many a times directed the project people to execute the project as a mission and avoid unnecessary publicity so that the resources could entirely be spent on providing relief to the poor.

The Planning and Development (P&D) Department, which was running the initiative, set aside Rs5 billion  for the current fiscal 2016-17 for the project and 50 percent the allocation has already been utilised.

Over three lakh households in the province have received the vouchers and they are receiving sasta atta and ghee from the Utility Stores every month on which the provincial government has sent over Rs3 billion.

However, earlier last month the provincial government asked the P&D to shift the resources of the project to its Sehat Insaf Card programme as their pro-poor initiative had no “political impact”, an officer associated to the project said.

The assistant chief health section-II in the P&D, Dr Kashif Nazeem, confirmed the transfer of funds to the Sehat Insaf Cards programme, but said he recently joined the section and was not fully aware of the details in this regard.

He said the section chief had called on secretary P&D and took the cell number of this scribe so that for further details he could be put through the section chief for when arrives in his office.

However, the health section chief in the P&D neither called back nor he could be contacted on updates and details on the Sehat Insaf Card scheme.

The officer working with the sasta atta ghee project informed that the provincial government has raised score for eligibility of the Sehat Insaf Card from 16.1 to 20 points that led to the inclusion of around one million more households that would be an uphill task
for the functionaries concerned to reach.He said that this “shift” would further affect the PTI-led provincial coalition government’s broad social agenda which has already been moving sluggishly ahead in the province.