Committee shows concerns on exclusion of 850000 beneficiaries from BISP

Abdullah Malik

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Functional Committee on Problems of Less Developed Areas in its meeting held on Tuesday at Parliament House, discussed in detail the BISP Program and other welfare initiatives being launched by the Ministry. Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to PM and Chairperson BISP, gave the Committee a complete overview of the program.

The Committee was informed that Ehsaas is the umbrella under which numerous welfare programs such as the National Socio Economic Registry, Unconditional Cash Transfer, Conditional Cash Transfer, Nutrition Initiative, BISP Graduation Program fell under.

It was revealed that the Ehsaas Program is the future of social protection in Pakistan. Launched on 27th March, 2019 with four focus areas and 155 policy actions to reduce inequality, invest in people and uplift lagging districts. Ehsaas has 134 elements and involves 34 Federal Agencies to implement this multi-sectoral multi-stakeholder initiative.

The Committee showed interest regarding various programs came under Ehsaas and its aim to create human capital development, jobs and livelihoods. However, keeping in view the BISP program it showed concern regarding recent exclusion of 850000 beneficiaries from the program. The Committee was informed that the decision was taken as a result of beneficiary profiling 820,165 beneficiaries who were screened out as failing in the ascertained criteria. It was revealed that 820165 beneficiaries included 2548 government employees (BS-17 to 21).

The Committee was informed that a national survey will be conducted soon and poverty scorecard methodology would be applied for the identification of the poor. Discovering vacant positions at BISP offices across the country the Committee stressed the need to fill-up 2067 vacant positions at the earliest. Preference, it was asserted must be given to individuals belonging to less developed areas. The Committee directed that recruitment rules must be submitted in the next meeting. Details of deputations were also called for by the Committee.

The Committee recommended that the BISP program must head towards self sustainability of beneficiaries and help them start up small businesses. Directions were given for BISP to focus on less developed areas and instead of allocating funds pro rata; must increase support for less developed areas. Considering Scholarships, preference must be given to students of less developed areas.

The Committee called to take up the issue of fake BISP calls and refer these and those involved to the FIA for investigation and criminal proceedings.