PESHAWAR: Benefits of economic revitalisation programme could not trickle down to militancy-affected entrepreneurs in tribal areas due to bureaucratic hurdles, tough conditions and lengthy documentation process.
The multimillion dollars economic revitalisation project was launched in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas to provide financial grant to people for rehabilitation and upgradation of their small and medium enterprises in militancy affected areas.
Officials told Dawn on Thursday that 2,581 applications had been received from entrepreneurs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata and of them, 841 had been processed including only 59 from Fata, the most militancy-hit region. They said around 1,000 applications had been filed for receiving grant.
Multi Donors Trust Fund (MTDF) was supported by Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, European Union, Sweden, Turkey, Italy, Britain and the US in 2010 to help people whose business had affected due to the militancy.
The $20 million project is executed by Small Medium Enterprises Development Authority and World Bank has administrative role.
Under the project, the minimum grant is Rs0.3 million and the maximum Rs2.5 million.
Affected entrepreneurs from different tribal agencies complained that processing of applications was very slow and a large number of affected people had been waiting for receiving grants to rehabilitate their damaged businesses.
People mostly said they had suffered damage to their businesses many years ago and in the absence of any proper mechanism of registration of cases in tribal areas it is now difficult for them to prove those losses.
They said unlike settled areas of the country, there was no revenue staff and mechanism for registration of cases with the political authorities.
A businessman from Nawagai in Bajaur Agency said he had applied for grant in May 2012, but application was still pending with Smeda in Peshawar. “Even Smeda survey team can’t visit the site for assessment of damages,” he complained.
He said the political administration had verified his case, but Smeda officials were using delaying tactics to approve grant. According to the terms of reference Smeda dispatches its team to verify damages claimed by applicants and make financial assessment of the losses on the spot.
Ilyas Shinwari, a militancy-affected businessman from Landi Kotal, Khyber Agency, said he had filed his case about eight months ago, but his application had not been processed.
The tribesman had electronics business in Landi Kotal Bazaar, which was damaged in bomb blast in March 2009. He said cases of other shopkeepers from Landi Kotal, who had applied, were also waiting for receiving grants.
When contacted, Project Manager Sarmad Hussain Khan said 1,000 applications had been received from all agencies of Fata since Jan 2012 for obtaining grants, of which 59 cases had been processed and approved. He said the total cost of the approved cases was Rs67 million and first installment had been released to the applicants.
He said 28 cases had been approved in Bajaur, 13 in South Waziristan, eight in Mohmand, six in Khyber, three in Kurram and one in North Waziristan Agency. He said Smeda could not approve grants without fulfilling legal formalities by the applicants.
“Smeda can’t approve incomplete applications and affected entrepreneurs have to provide all documentary proofs of their damages,” he said, adding that many people from Fata had submitted simple applications for receiving grants.
He said duplication and discrepancies in applications were main reasons for delay in the approval of grants. Generally, he said, people particularly in Fata did not maintain proper documents of their businesses and wealth.
Many entrepreneurs from Kurram Agency accused the staff of the tribal agencies’ political administrations of creating hindrances in verification of documents.
An affected businessman from Parachinar said he had visited Smeda office in Peshawar six times and every time officials asked for providing additional documents.
“Riots broke out in Parachinar in 2007 and this is very difficult for affected people to bring documentary proofs of their damages,” he said suggesting that the government simplify process.