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April 22, 2019

BISP set to speedily undertake measures to tackle poverty: Sania Nishtar

BISP set to speedily undertake measures to tackle poverty: Sania Nishtar 

ISLAMABAD: Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Dr Sania Nishtar has said her organisation would speedily implement a range of social protection measures in coming months to boost the government efforts to reduce poverty and create new opportunities for vulnerable sections of society.

Talking to this agency here, she said the new Ehsaas programme launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 27 was a priority poverty reduction measure and will focus on four areas and 115 policy actions to reduce inequality, invest in people, and uplift lagging districts. The programme is aimed at helping the downtrodden and vulnerable segments of society, including the poor, orphans, widows, homeless, disabled, undernourished and jobless.

She told that Benazir Income Support Programme will execute two new social protection programmes Kifalat and Tahafuz. The programme of Kifalat will ensure financial and digital inclusion of around 6 million women through the one woman one bank account policy.

There will be an inflation adjustment in the size of the cash transfers to the women. Five hundred digital hubs will be set up at the tehsil level under Kifalat where government’s digital resources will be made accessible as a public good and will include information systems, online curricula and one window social protection interfaces to create opportunities for poor families to graduate out of poverty.

BISP will add Rs80 billion to the social protection spending in the forthcoming budget of 2019-20 and in the next budget 2020-21 there will be a further increase and incrementally the amount would be enhanced to Rs120 billion or at one per cent of the GDP with federal and provincial contribution.

The government has recently created Ministry of Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Coordination to address current fragmentation of its organizations.

Benazir Income Support Program, Baitul Mal, Zakaat, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, Trust for Voluntary Organizations, the SUN Network, Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and secretariats of the Poverty Alleviation Coordination Council and Labour Expert Group will be under this ministry.

According to BISP, about 38.8 per cent of people in Pakistan suffer from poverty in one form or another and 24.4 per cent do not have enough money to satisfy their basic food and non-food needs.

The government needs to identify the poor precisely to make government subsidies, targeted. Dr Sania said her organization will update the National Socioeconomic Registry along with multiple validations of the registry through follow up review surveys and use of big data analytics to correctly and precisely identity the real poor.

Later it will be turned into a live registry with constant updates. She said Tahafuz will be the other programme to protect the poor and vulnerable against financial shocks and will involve one time financial assistance in the face of catastrophic events.

It will also give assistance to poor widows who don’t have any earning children. The programme will provide legal aid and in partnership with non-governmental organizations will upscale successful programmes for orphans, street children, seasonal migrants, transgender, victims of abuse, bonded labour and daily wage workers.

The programme will include building of Ehsaas homes for 10,000 orphans, shelter homes in several major cities and housing scheme for the poor including landless farmers through interest free loans.

She informed that a new community and nutrition initiative will be undertaken to address stunting in children. Dr Sania said a need based system will be introduced in the National Finance Commission Award to improve the allocation formula instead of keeping it limited to the factor of population.

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