Research Analyst
July 05 - 11, 2010

Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) was initiated by government of Pakistan with initial allocation of Rs34 billion (US$425 million approximately) for the financial year 2008-09. The allocation for the current fiscal year is Rs70 billion to provide cash assistance to 5 million families which constitutes almost 15 per cent of the entire population. The programme aims at covering almost 40 per cent of the population below the poverty line.

The enrolled families are paid a cash assistance of Rs1000 per month at their doorsteps. A monthly payment of Rs1000 per family would enhance the income of a family earning by 20 per cent.

BISP is being implemented in all four provinces (Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) including Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).


Parliamentarian 2,275,206 42.4 Billion Oct 2008 - June 2010
Bomb Blast Victim 1,166 104 Million March 2009 - Till Date
IDP's Swat/Malakand 318,126 950 Million April 2009 - March 2010
IDP's Bajaur 3,965 28 Million Dec 2008 - June 2009
Earth Quake Victim 3,729 34 Million Dec 2008 - Aug 2009
Waseela-e-Haq 894 0.3 Million Each Oct 2009 - Till Date


In pursuance of the international practices, it was felt that a more objective method of targeting the beneficiary families is needed. Therefore, with the help of World Bank the government has decided to reform the targeting process to minimise the inclusion and exclusion errors and give equal chance to each one for applying to the programme for benefits. The World Bank approved instrument named "Poverty Scorecard" based on Proxy Means Testing which has been adopted and a nationwide Poverty Survey was planned to identify the poor families. Hence beneficiary identification through Parliamentarians was stopped on 30th of April 2009. In this context, a test phase of the survey, financed by GOP has already been conducted in sixteen districts in four provinces and AJK/GB. The survey is carried out house to house thus providing an equal opportunity to all to apply for the BISP's benefits.

The questionnaire including questions about the household members, household characteristics and assets is used to determine their poverty status. Data entry of the 15 surveyed districts. Approximately 600,000 beneficiary families have been identified during the Pilot Phase of the Survey in the fifteen districts. Such present beneficiaries in these districts who fall below the cut-off score will continue to be BISP beneficiaries, but others have been eliminated.

A nationwide survey is targeted to be launched within few days along with the financial support of the World Bank. Request for proposals (RFPs) have been issued to short listed survey firms. For the Poverty Survey, the whole country, except Balochistan, has been divided into five clusters namely Upper Punjab & AJK, Southern Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa & Gilgit Baltistan & Fata. The clusters have been offered for competitive biding to conduct the survey. Five firms, one for each cluster, are being hired following Quality and Cost Selection (QCBS) method. During the targeting process, number of evaluation activities will be carried out ensuring therein that participating organisations have followed the process outlined in the Targeting Manual of the BISP.

To carry out the evaluation processes, quantitative and qualitative assessments will be made through hiring of separate firms for both the exercises.


BISP is also implementing an Emergency Relief Package for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP's) of Fata, Swat and earthquake affecters of Balochistan. A total of Rs28 billion has been paid to 3,965 families from Fata and Bajaur and Rs34 billion has been paid to 3,729 earthquake affected families in Balochistan.


BISP has initiated "Waseela-e-Haq" programme for providing the poor an opportunity of self employment. One beneficiary has been selected out of the each subgroup through a computerised draw for award of a cash loan of Rs 300,000. This one time loan is conditional and the beneficiary will have to spend it for some income generating purpose. Six draws have been held so far. As a result, 4,526 beneficiaries have been pre-selected during these draws and those falling below the cutoff score will be eligible for the loan.


In order to transform the poor segment of society from reliance on the government's monthly financial assistance, one member from each qualifying household will be equipped with technical and vocational skills. The second phase of the skill development programme will be provision of microfinance for poor families to help them run small businesses.


Health insurance is also a major component of this programme and will cover the entire family including household head and spouse, children up to 18 years, dependent parents, and unmarried daughters aged 18 and above. The policy benefit will cover full hospitalisation, pregnancy, daycare treatment and diagnostic tests. This insurance policy will also provide accident compensation for earning members of the family.


Benazir Income Support Programme provides the much needed assistance to the deserving poor families. As it gains strength over time the BISP should also consider expanding its role by introducing new measures like provision of microfinance, skill development and education opportunities for the poor segments of the society.