LAHORE – Provincial Minister for Zakat and Usher has told the Punjab Assembly on Monday that the Punjab government will legislate on the allocation of Zakat and Usher funds to various public welfare sectors to ensure regular and reasonable availability of funds to them.

During the question-hour session of the Punjab Assembly, Malik Nadeem Kamran responding to a supplementary question said following the 18th Amendment, the Federal government failed to provide required funds for the institutions running under Punjab Vocational Training Council (PVTC) and others which get the grant from the Zakat and Usher amount.

“In order to address the problem of supply of funds to these institutions, the provincial government is going to table a bill during the next session of the Punjab Assembly wherein matters of Zakat funds will be discussed besides raising funds for the vocational training institutions from 20 per cent to 50 per cent of the total outlay”, he added.

The minister told the House that the present deficiency of funds to these institutions, however, had been met by the Punjab government from its own resources.

The Punjab Assembly started the session 50-minutes beyond the fixed time of 3pm with Speaker Assembly Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan in the chair. The House took up the questions on the Zakat and Usher department and replies to them were provided by the minister concerned.

To a question by Khawaja Muhammad Islam, the minister said during the year 2008-09 the federal government did not provide regular funds for Zakat and Usher committees of Faisalabad after they stood dissolved as such no money was provided to the needy.

The minister explained on the question that Zakat money is properly audited at the committee level, internally and through the federal government. He further said to a question that the provision of jehaz (dowry) fund was not conditioned with the nikah of the girl but that could be supplied when two well known persons of the respective area, vouch authenticity of the case wherein nikah was not conditional.

Malik Nadeem Kamran said to another question that madaras were not necessary given the funds, however, on availability and to those only which were registered.

To a question put by Nighat Nasir Sheikh, the minister promised to give details of the expenditure incurred on the holding of 10 training workshops of PVTC in 2007. The Opposition got a chance to boo the minister when he looked blank to tell a questioner how many vocational training were operating in the City. However, the minister said 10 after being informed by Secretary concerned.

To a question put by Ch Muhammad Asad Ullah, the minister said the Provincial Zakat authorities provided funds to every district in proportionate to the ratio of population following a procedure while Zakat fund at the rate of Rs 20 and Rs 15 was provided for each bed respectively at the level of District and Tehsil District Headquarter Hospital and the government was considering to raise this amount. The minister rebuffed a questioner when he alleged favouritism in the allocation of Zakat amount to the hospitals. However, he explained that the big hospitals were given priority.

To a question as to the amount of scholarships (technical and general education) in madaras provided from the Zakat funds, he said the same could not be released owing to stoppage of funds for the year 2008-09. He said during the year 2009-10 as many as 4,627 applications were received of which 2,330 deserving students had been provided scholarship amount while rest could not get owing to non-availability of money.