2.339 million BISP beneficiaries await cash, PAC told

ISLAM1ABAD: A subcommittee of the Pub lic Account Committee (PAC) on Wednesday was informed that 2.339 million beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) have been denied cash disbursement due to many reasons.
The BISP Secretary told the PAC subcommittee-III that the incumbent government had increased payment to each beneficiary from Rs 1,000 per month to Rs 1,200 per month and from July 2014, it had further enhanced the amount to Rs 1,500 per month.
According to the criteria, 7.7 million beneficiaries are eligible for cash grant from the government in which 5.4 million have active CNICs, 4.58 million are receiving payment and 2.3 million are pending cases. 
The highest numbers of pending cases 0.884 million are in Sindh, 0.815 million in Punjab, 0.291 million in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 0.234 million in Balochistan.
Subcommittee Convener Ashiq Hussain Gopang directed the BISP to review the eligible criteria for including the pending cases in the beneficiary list as soon as possible. Only population should not be the basis of inclusion in the BISP; rather poverty, resource allocation and other things should also be taken into consideration. 
The BISP Secretary informed the committee that as a routine the government would review the criteria by 2016 for which the process would be initiated in 2015. But, the convener of the committee directed that not to wait for 2016 and initiate the process as soon as possible. 
The BISP secretary informed the committee that there were certain programmes which were run parallel by other departments/organisations. For example, the BISP was extending the facility of Waseela-e-Haq initiative, under which a beneficiary was given Rs 0.3 million for establishing his own business without knowing the consent of the beneficiary. Along with this, he said, there were several organisation which were helping community in providing loan facility for microfinance purposes. 
The current government also initiated a loan scheme for young people; so there were several initiatives on part of the government which were overlapping.  The secretary said that there was a need for reviewing the whole system and removal of some initiatives. 
The committee stressed for inclusion of people below the poverty line and elimination of well-off people gradually. 
The enrolled families are paid cash assistance @ Rs1,500 per month on quarterly basis from July 2014; apart from benefits provided under graduation strategy like long-term interest free returnable financial assistance, vocational and technical training, health and life insurance coverage. 
The BISP is being implemented across Pakistan including Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB).
In order to further improve the payment mechanism, technology-based solutions are being explored by the BISP. Such new mechanisms will enable the BISP to execute the payments in a shorter span of time and to reconcile payments in real time. Systems are also being designed to address the payment complaints in a more efficient way.
Payment through the smart cards is being initiated in four districts as a pilot project. The cards would be issued by NADRA and payments would be arranged by a bank through a network of franchisees and a core banking application, the secretary maintained.

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