By Our Staff Reporter
Peshawar: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government acknowledged on Tuesday that over 145,000 people with disabilities in the province have not received a government grant of Rs3,000 per month for the last three years.
Responding to the issue, Social Welfare Minister Dr. Hisham Inamullah Khan told the provincial assembly that his department could not pay a monthly stipend to 145,405 people with different disabilities in three years.
He said the department either didn’t get the money or got it too late to disburse at the end of the financial year, Dawn reported.
The Minister blamed the Department of Finance for late updates. He said the department issued Rs2.97 million in the last month of the 2018-19 financial year, so it was not possible for his department to disburse the funds.
The Minister said the department had to hand over the funds to the finance department.
The Minister also told the House that the Social Welfare Department had prepared a proposal for the Poverty Relief Fund prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, and that all registered persons with disabilities had been covered by the proposal, but that the proposed fund had not been approved due to financial constraints.
He said the government should give priority to social welfare. The Minister decided that the government should increase the monthly allowance for people with disabilities.
Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, who chaired the meeting, directed the finance department to release funds to the appropriate departments before June.
“Releasing funds to departments in May and June is a joke,” he said, urging the cabinet to find a solution to the problem.
In response to the same question posed by opposition member Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal Inayatullah Khan, Minister Hisham Inamullah said that his department had no resources, including qualified staff, to conduct a door-to-door survey in the province to register persons with disabilities.
He said the Department had intended to start registration of persons with disabilities in the combined tribal districts during the current financial year.
Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz MPA Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha, who raised the issue, and other opposition members criticized the finance department for delaying the release of funds and complained that the social welfare department could not give out stipends to well-deserved citizens due to the issue and had to surrender funds.
The legislators suggested that the government initiate a sustainable initiative for the ‘financial rehabilitation’ of people with disabilities in the province.