Every state is liable to increase the size of the economy and for its development offers different welfare programs apart for their major economic programs. The developing countries like Pakistan, despite its limited resources, offering Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), a flagship social protection program of the Government of Pakistan to give social assistance to women.
The Government of Pakistan mentioned in its yearly report that the quarterly cash grant has been gradually improved by present government from Rs3,000 per family to Rs3,600 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013-14, Rs4,500 in FY 2014-15, Rs4,700 in FY2015-16 and Rs4,834 in FY 2016-17. The number of beneficiaries in BISP has grown from 1.7 million in FY 2009 to almost 5.42 million at the end of March 2017. BISP’s yearly disbursement rose from Rs16.0 billion in FY2009 to Rs115 billion in FY2017. The government also mentioned that since inception, BISP has transferred Rs486 billion(21st April, 2017) as cash transfers. BISP is following the path of automation and 97 percent of beneficiaries are being paid through technology based payment mechanisms. It is also mentioned in the report that World Bank funded $150 million for ‘Pakistan Social Safety Net Project’ to launch UCT (Unconditional Cash Transfer) and Co-responsibility Cash Transfer/CCT (Waseela-e-Taleem) for primary education of children of BISP beneficiaries. The financing was disbursed through set of Disbursement Link Indicators (DLIs) totaling 19. This program has fruitfully attained and completed all DLIs amounting to $150 million.
BISP’s rating has been upgraded as ‘highly satisfactory’ while rating of the project management has been upgraded to ‘satisfactory’. BISP has been globally acclaimed as number 5 in the world in targeting performance of SSNs (State of Social SafetyNet, World Bank, 2015). BISP and World Bank have successfully signed the new program on 30th March, 2017 amounting to $100 million. Presently, the management of BISP started using innovative payment mechanism in the form of Benazir Smart Card and Mobile Phone Banking on test basis in nine districts in Pakistan. After testing the pilots, BISP has rolled out Benazir Debit Card across Pakistan. Now, about 97 percent beneficiaries are receiving payments by technology innovative payment mechanisms. BISP has implemented biometric verification system (BVS) in 9 districts. Till December 2016 662,077 beneficiaries received cash through biometric verification.
Some economist also revealed that BISP cash transfers have contributed poverty reduction among beneficiaries by 7 percentage points, relative to non-beneficiaries having same characteristics. BISP continued to have an impact in rising consumption expenditure of Rs187. BISP is leading to increase in per adult equivalent monthly food consumption (Rs69) driven by high quality protein.
BISP’S ACHIEVEMENTS IN FY 2016-17
The following achievements of BISP in the year 2016-17 which are as follows:
- The government raise BISP’s budgetary allocations from Rs70 billion in FY2013 to Rs75 billion in FY2014, which was subsequently improved to Rs97 billion in FY2015 and Rs102 in FY2016 and for the FY2017, the allocation was more improved to Rs115 billion.
- The quarterly cash grant has been slowly improved from Rs3,000 per family to Rs3,600 in FY2014, Rs4,500 in FY2015, Rs4,700 in FY2016 and Rs4,834 in FY2017.
- The number of BISP beneficiaries has also risen from 3.73 million in FY2013 to 5.0 million in FY2015. At present the number of beneficiaries is almost 5.42 million.
- BISP is following the path of automation and 97 percent of beneficiaries are being paid by the mode of technology. Furthermore, successful launch of pilot phase of NSER and completion of Desk Approach with 89 percent overage. It is also mentioned in the report that successful start of BVS (biometric verification system) in 43 districts. Successful completion of World Bank financed ‘Pakistan Social Safety Net Project’ and the new programs have also been signed on 30th March, 2017 amounting to $100 million.
- Launching of third Impact Evaluation Report 2016 by the Oxford Policy Management (OPM). The report finds that per adult equivalent consumption expenditure has, as a result of BISP interventions, increased by Rs187 and poverty has fallen by 7.0 percentage point amongst beneficiaries. BISP has inducted an increase in per adult equivalent monthly food consumption by Rs69.
The Government of Pakistan has planned this program to facilitate BISP beneficiary families having children in the age group of 5 to 12 years for their primary education and in return for cash transfers with the long-term prospects of human capital formation to graduate out of abject poverty. The initiative was to enroll almost 2.0 million children in primary schools by December 2018. This involves a cash transfer of Rs250 per month paid quarterly (Rs750 per child) for all children of each beneficiary family in the age bracket of 5-12 years in return for their compliance with the co-responsibilities of school admission and a minimum of 70 percent quarterly attendance. The field operation of the program was started in October, 2012. So far, over 1.3 million children have been enrolled and Rs2.9 billion has been disbursed as stipend under WeT.