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Eligibility criteria for bisp

The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is a federal unconditional cash transfer initiative in Pakistan, launched in July 2008 to reduce poverty and enhance the financial capacity of the poor. Named after former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the program has become the largest social safety net in Pakistan, distributing nearly Rs. 90 billion ($900 million) to 5.4 million beneficiaries by 2016.

Benazir Taleemi Wazaif

History of BISP

BISP was established in 2008 by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani on the advice of President Asif Ali Zardari, to honor the late Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007. The program was created against a backdrop of high inflation and rising food and oil prices, which had eroded the purchasing power of many Pakistani families. The program aims not only to address economic issues but also to empower women by directing cash transfers to female household members.

Program Structure

BISP operates across all provinces of Pakistan, including Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the federally administered regions of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and the Islamabad Capital Territory. Initially, beneficiaries were selected by Parliamentarians, but since April 2009, a Poverty Scorecard system has been used for identification. This scorecard involves a proxy means test based on a survey of assets and expenses, approved by the World Bank.

Eligibility

Eligibility for BISP requires families to earn less than Rs 6,000 per month ($67). Additional criteria include:

  • Having a female applicant with a valid ID card.
  • Being a widowed or divorced woman without male family members.
  • Having physically or mentally disabled individuals in the family.

Families ineligible for BISP include those with:

  • Members employed by the government or military.
  • Members receiving government pensions or owning significant land.
  • Members with a machine-readable passport or overseas National Identity Card.
  • Members holding bank accounts, excluding microfinance and low-income specific accounts.

Benefits

BISP provides eligible families with quarterly cash payments of Rs 8,500. This amount, approximately Rs 2,833 per month, significantly boosts the purchasing power of low-income families, allowing them to afford essential items such as flour for 20-25 days each month.

Special Initiatives

BISP has launched several special initiatives, including:

  • Waseela-e-Haq: Provides small loans to women.
  • Waseela-e-Rozgar: Offers vocational training for up to one year.
  • Waseela-e-Sehat: Assists with basic healthcare costs.
  • Waseela-e-Taleem: Conditions cash payments on the primary school enrollment of children.

Additionally, BISP supports emergency relief efforts for families affected by terrorism, war, and natural disasters.

Criticism

Despite its success, BISP has faced criticism. Key issues include:

  • The cash payment amount is often insufficient to lift families above the poverty line.
  • The lack of conditionality in cash transfers, unlike similar programs in Latin America that require beneficiaries to meet certain health and education conditions.
  • Accusations of corruption and political favoritism, with reports of beneficiaries being selected based on political affiliations rather than need.
  • Calls for rigorous impact evaluations to assess the program’s effectiveness and necessity.

List of Chairpersons of BISP

Name Entered Office Left Office
Farzana Raja July 2008 March 2013
Vacant March 2013 November 2013
Enver Baig November 2013 November 2014
Vacant November 2014 February 2015
Marvi Memon February 2015 June 2018
Vacant June 2018 October 2018
Sania Nishtar October 2018 April 2022
Shazia Marri April 2022 Present

Quick Details

Feature Description
Program Name Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP)
Initiated by Government of Pakistan
Primary Benefit Unconditional cash transfers
Target Beneficiaries Low-income families
Annual Distribution (2016) Rs 90 billion ($900 million)
Eligibility Criteria Income below Rs 6,000 per month, specific family conditions
Key Initiatives Waseela-e-Haq, Waseela-e-Rozgar, Waseela-e-Sehat, Waseela-e-Taleem
Criticisms Insufficient payment amounts, lack of conditionality, allegations of corruption
Budget (2016) US$ 1.15 Billion
Headquarters Islamabad, Pakistan
Website bisp.gov.pk

BISP stands as a significant effort by the Pakistani government to support its most vulnerable citizens, despite facing several challenges and criticisms. Its evolution and adaptation over the years demonstrate a continued commitment to reducing poverty and enhancing social welfare in Pakistan.

 

By kal8171

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