PESSI misusing workers fund to build hospital in Buzdar’s hometown

Social security institution pre-approves staff hiring for under-construction hospital with cancer ward in Taunsa exposed to carcinogens

A social security hospital with a special cancer treatment ward was approved for construction in Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s hometown Taunsa Sharif, along with allowance for staff to be hired before the facility’s completion.

The Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI)—an autonomous body that runs on funds of laborers and private employers—would perform the job, as per documents available with Minute Mirror. The approval was given at the PESSI governing body’s 153rd meeting, held last week in Lahore.

PESSI’s decision to grant extraordinary privilege to Taunsa Sharif was a clear violation of the Social Security Act 1965. The act states that PESSI could not construct a medical facility in an area where the number of registered workers was below 2,500. Taunsa Sharif was one such area.

Some insiders told Minute Mirror that the entire exercise was a political stunt and was a violation of the rules.

According to the governing body’s meeting agenda, the PESSI administration would spend Rs80 million from the Workers Welfare Fund for the purpose and the hospital would hire 79 people including doctors, paramedics, and other hospital staff. The document noted that the facility’s construction was underway, with only ten percent physical progress managed by October 15.

The agenda revealed that the cancer ward was being constructed because there was a higher prevalence of the disease due to ‘cancerous anomalies in the water table and air’, within a 72km radius around the Atomic Energy Institution in the city. The agenda furthered that the special cancer ward was being made to deal with the burgeoning public health crisis.

This wasn’t the only social security hospital where staff hiring was approved for a social security hospital before completion. The PESSI governing body also approved recruitment of 79 people for an under-construction hospital in Sargodha.

“With the construction of new hospitals, the human resource is essentially required to provide healthcare facilities to the secured employees and their dependents at their doorstep,” mentioned the agenda items, while urging the governing body to allow initiation of the recruitment process.

Minute Mirror tried to contact PESSI Commissioner Dr. Syed Bilal Haider repeatedly on his official and personal number, but received no response.

Iftikhar Alam is a correspondent writing on religion, politics, agriculture, and energy. He takes people on a rich journey through the culture of Punjab. He tweets @imiftikharalam and can be reached at