KARACHI: Out of Rs87 million allocated for new schemes relating to the women development department, not a single rupee has been released in the first four months of the current financial year, said a written answer presented in the Sindh Assembly on Monday.
The answer was provided by the department in response to a question asked by Muttahida Quami Movement legislator Heer Ismail Soho during the question hour that was pertaining to the women development and livestock departments.
Presided over by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, the session was informed that Rs55 million had been allocated in the budget for the establishment of a permanent building for the directorate of women development. However, the fund was not released. Similarly, Rs12 million had been allocated for economic empowerment and development of rural women of Sindh and Rs20 million had been allocated for micro-financing and skill training to rural / less privileged women through First Women Bank. No money was released for these schemes.
The situation was equally dismal regarding the ongoing schemes of the women development department relating to the year 2012-13. Of the Rs348 million allocated fund, just seven per cent (Rs24.8 million) had been released, reflecting government priorities as far as women-related issues are concerned.
A written response given by Minister for Women Development Rubina Qaimkhani to another question of Ms Soho about implementation of the women economic empowerment project was that as the project was not approved by the competent forum.
The initial three questions in the order of the day consumed around 45 minutes after which Speaker Durrani concluded the question hour.
Probably he did not see that two questions, which were on the next page in the order of the day, still remained to be taken up, while none of the lawmakers took notice pointed out that the two questions were left.
Livestock dept devolution
Pakistan Muslim League-Functional legislator Nusrat Sehar Abbasi asked about devolution of the federal livestock department to the provinces following the 18th constitutional amendment. In reply to her question, Sindh livestock minister Jam Khan Shoro said that rather than devolving the federal ministry, the federal government created the Ministry of National Food Security and Research. All the projects / programmes / boards which were being implemented in the provinces by the Ministry of Livestock and Dairy Development were now being run by the newly created federal ministry, said the provincial minister.
Mr Shoro said that efforts were being made by Sindh to take these projects from the federation and now the province also planned to raise the issue in the Council of Common Interests.
In reply to a question by Ms Abbasi regarding non-payment of salaries to 332 employees of milk and meat project, the minister said that after the completion of the project, 147 employees were absorbed in the government and they were being paid salaries. He said 185 could not be absorbed and they were not getting salaries. However, efforts were being made to get them regularized and if the chief minister regularized their services, they would start getting salaries, he added. The posts not regularised included eight of BPS-18, 54 of BPS-17, 51 posts of naib qasid / chowkidar (BPS-1), 61 posts of sanitary workers (BPS-1), etc.
Ms Soho and her party colleague Khwaja Izhar-ul-Hassan said that while questions relating to women development and livestock departments were taken up and answered, the questions relating to other departments such as home and revenue departments that they had submitted over six to eight months back were not taken up.
They said the question hour related to livestock department had been fixed for a second time over the past 10 to 15 days. But the question hour pertaining to home, revenue and excise departments was rarely taken up, they said. They had submitted questions relating to these and other departments over six to eight months back but they were not being taken up.
Speaker Durrani directed the assembly secretary to check the record if that had happened and if so, then ensure that the question hour relating to all the departments, particularly those mentioned by the legislators, which had not been taken up for a long time be fixed from Wednesday. A few days back opposition leader Shaharyar Mahar had also raised the issue that his questions, particularly those relating to the home, revenue etc departments had not been taken up for nearly a year or so.
MQM legislators Mohammad Hussain Syed, Waqar Hussain, Khalid Ahmed and Sumeta Syed, Mahtab Rashdi of the PML(F), Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Sikander Mandhro and others also spoke.