WB lauds system, transparency of BISP

KARACHI: The World Bank (WB) believes that the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is working systematically and transparently and the programme is not supposed to end in future.

Senior experts at WB, while answering general queries regarding BISP on Facebook the other day, said this type of programme is not supposed to “end” – as there will be always poor/ vulnerable people in need for short or long term income support. Some of the beneficiaries will “graduate” or “exit” the programme, while other “new poor” will be enrolled.

Lucian Bucur Pop, who covers operations and analytical work in the field of social protection and labour on Afghanistan and Pakistan at WB, in reply to a query said BISP’s wants is to ensure that the programme has long lasting affects and in this regard, strategy to address this aspect is being prepared, focused mainly on partnering with organisations that can improve the employability of beneficiaries.

“A new survey is needed and will be implemented in 2016. A new targeting exercise is being designed by the government and an update exercise will start next year,” he added. This will likely start in 2016 with an advanced public information campaign at the national and local level and BISP is also trying to address the issue of standing in line by increasing access to Points of Sale closer to beneficiaries, and increasing the number of payment service providers.

On another query regarding fake text messages received randomly by public, they said this is a fraud- BISP is addressing this by working with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and he suggested the public that do not follow them and for any clarifications, BISP’s offices are fully equipped to respond.

The WB experts said the evidence provided by independent evaluations of BISP show that BISP beneficiaries work as much as non-beneficiaries. Thus, there is strong evidence that BISP does not create work disincentives and BISP is now assessing possibilities to link beneficiaries to programmes that will enhance their employment opportunities.

The existing evidence from the Household Integrated Economic Survey (2014) administered by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics shows that half of BISP beneficiaries belong to the poorest 20% of population and 75% of beneficiaries are coming from the poorest 40% of population and about 40% of BISP beneficiaries are from Punjab. Similar results were provided by independent surveys administered by IFPRI/ IDS.

The government is currently preparing the plan to update the National Socio Economic Registry -the database to objectively select the eligible for social benefits. There is a strong commitment to complete this exercise in the best possible manner, also using the modern technology, they informed.

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