BISP funds ‘doubled’ despite scandals
Chairperson for the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Marvi Memon has announced that the federal government has 'doubled' the funds for the BISP beneficiaries in order to tackle the increasing poverty in Pakistan.
While talking at a seminar in Gwadar, Marvi Memon said that the empowerment of women in Pakistan can help eliminate poverty in the region. She added that the number of BISP beneficiaries in the Makran division had reached 26,545 which indicated a high ratio of people living below the poverty line.
She said that the federal government is sincere in its efforts to eradicate poverty and remains committed to provide financial assistance to the deserving families all across the country. "The federal government wants to empower women by financially helping them though the BISP to help them become part of the mainstream," said the Chairperson BISP.
The Health Minister of Balochistan, Mir Rehmat Saleh Baloch praised the efforts generated through the BISP and suggested that the number of beneficiaries in Balochistan should be increased due to the backwardness and poverty in the province. Previously, the Queen of Netherland, Queen Maxima, had praised the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) during her visit to Pakistan. The Queen expressed her appreciation towards the way BISP is helping millions across Pakistan. The Queen of Netherland visited Pakistan as the United Nation's ( UN) Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. She said that Pakistan is in the right position to move ahead in terms of economy and development. The Chairperson for the BISP, Marvi Memon, briefed the Queen on the progress BISP has made thus far for the poorest section of Pakistan. The BISP has benefited more than 5.2 million people all over the country.
BISP plans to update its current debit card system to a biometric system of identification in order to increase the efficiency of providing financial assistance to beneficiaries. With the biometric system of identification, financial assistance will only be provided through fingerprints.
The Chairperson of the BISP Marvi Memon proposed the biometric up-gradation during a meeting which was chaired by the Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar. The Chairperson BISP also said that the number of cash points will also be increased across the country in order to facilitate the beneficiaries. A new banking model for the BISP and updates regarding the National Socio-Economic Registry were also discussed during the meeting.
The BISP was launched in 2008 to provide financial aid to deserving families all over the country. Initially, the cash transfer amount was Rs. 1000 per month which was later increased to Rs. 1500 per month for eligible families that require financial assistance. The Nationwide Poverty Scorecard Survey reported that more than 7.7 million families in Pakistan were living below the cut-off score of 16.17 (below poverty line). The BISP was developed with the objective of providing support to the deserving families in Pakistan during the economic recession.
Another aspect of the BISP is the accusation of major corruption scandals that it has faced in recent times. In 2015, the Auditor General of Pakistan detected huge financial corruption while citing the audit report for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. According to the audit report, an amount of Rs. 2,049.703 million was paid to 683,235 beneficiaries who either did not have a Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) or the thumb impressions on the CNIC's were not updated. Moreover, the report stated that the BISP paid Rs. 4,413.925 million to five commercial banks for onward distribution which was seen as an 'undue favor'. The total number of 'ineligible' beneficiaries across the country, according to the audit report, has reached 683,235. The payments were made by Bank Al-Falah, Habib Bank Ltd, Tameer Bank, Summit Bank and United Bank Ltd.