Sunday Dec 05, 2021
The Foreign Office spokesperson, Asim Iftikhar Ahmad, on Sunday termed reports that Pakistan Missions abroad faced financial difficulties as "entirely baseless, irresponsible and malafide".
In a statement issued in response to media queries, the spokesperson said: "This deliberate disinformation attempt is outrightly rejected."
"All Pakistan Missions continue to be provided the requisite resources for effective functioning in accordance with relevant financial and budgetary rules and regulations," the statement added.
A day earlier, a report by The News stated citing sources, stated that the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington had run out of funds to pay salaries for at least four months to some of its employees, though the Pakistani ambassador's active engagement saved the day.
At least five of the Pakistani embassy's locally recruited contractual employees faced delays and non-payment of their monthly wages from August 2021, said the sources.
One staffer out of the five affected, who had been working for the past ten years with the embassy, resigned in September owing to delays and non-payment, the report said.
It noted that these unpaid local staffers were hired by the embassy on an annual contract basis and worked for the mission on bare-minimum salaries, which ranges from $2,000 to $2,500 per person per month.
The local hires, whether permanent or contractual, do not get perks and privileges that Foreign Office employees enjoy, including healthcare benefits. The domestic staffers are usually hired to help with the 'consular section' that provides visa, passport, notarisation and other consular services to the diaspora, it further observed.
According to the report, the sources said that such staffers are paid out of the Pakistan Community Welfare (PCW) fund, which is generated locally through services fees and then dispensed locally as well.
The sources said that the PCW fund collapsed last year because the money was diverted to purchase ventilators and other medical equipment after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The embassy struggled to maintain the funds that eventually affected the salary payments, the sources said, adding that the embassy had to borrow money from other account heads to keep up with the monthly salaries for the staffers hired locally.
Another factor that played a role was that Islamabad has digitised its visa services that are now handled in coordination with NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority).
The News also learnt that the desperate unpaid staffers wrote to the ambassador in October urging him to help sort the issue and the ambassador repeatedly raised the issue with the Foreign Office in Islamabad and managed to secure all salaries just last week.
Responding to questions, the embassy's spokesperson told The News that "currently there is no salary-related issue being faced by the Embassy staff".
The spokesperson further said that "while we always endeavour to disburse salaries to our staff on time, there are instances when due to longer than usual time in the processing of remittances from Pakistan and certain budgetary constraints, a delay in disbursement of salaries to the staff [is experienced]".