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Women MPAs perturbed over discrimination

LAHORE-The women parliamentarians in Punjab Assembly are perturbed over inordinate delay in approval and subsequent execution of their development schemes given to them under Punjab Development Programme (PDP).

It has been reliably learnt that unlike the schemes submitted by women legislators, all development projects of their male colleagues and also of directly elected women have been approved and are in the process of their execution.

The concerned officials in the local government department, have, however, attributed this delay to some technical hitch, which they believe, would be removed soon after getting a nod from the Punjab chief minister who is authority in this case.

As per details, every legislator in Punjab Assembly including women MPAs elected on reserved seats and those inducted on the basis of minority’s quota have been given development schemes worth Rs 8 million each under the PDP. Most of these schemes are to be executed by the district governments, while a few may be undertaken by provincial agencies.

Pointing out discriminatory treatment being meted out to female legislators regarding approval of their development schemes, a PPP MPA, Sajida Mir told The Nation on Tuesday that schemes submitted by male members of the assembly have been approved by the District Development Committees (DDCs) concerned headed by DCOs, whereas the those identified by women MPs are still awaiting approval, as they have to be sanctioned by the provincial steering committee and not by the DDCs.

It is to be noted that there are 66 lady MPAs in Punjab Assembly selected on the basis of 33 per cent quota reserved for women and eight non-Muslim members, also selected on reserved seats.

The steering committee on development headed by local government minister is yet to meet and grant approval of schemes, unlike those of the directly elected members, which have been approved by the concerned DDCs.

A senior official of local government department, who is also member of the provincial steering committee on development, told this scribe that delay in approval of development schemes submitted by women MPAs has been caused due to technical reasons. Firstly, he continued, the directly elected MPs have their specific constituencies in every district, and their development schemes can be executed by district agencies from funds deposited in Account-4. Since women MPs have no particular constituency of their own, and they could identify schemes in any district of the province, the required funds must be available in the provincial account, called, Account-1 or Special Drawing Account (SDA), which, he said, was not the case at the moment.

Further explaining the issue in question, the official said that currently, all funds under the PDP have been deposited in Account-4, which is purely a district account, and the schemes of women MPs are not covered under it.

He said local government department has moved a summary to Punjab chief minister seeking his approval for shifting of PDP funds from Account-4 to Account-1, a provincial account, so that schemes of women legislators could be executed. After CM’s approval, the steering committee would meet to sanction the schemes submitted by women MPAs, he assured.
Source: The Nation
Date:10/29/2008

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