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Jun 01, 2020 PRINT EDITION
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Rs 28 billion disbursed as cash transfers under BISP

The government disbursed Rs 28 billion as cash transfers under the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) - 32 percent of the total budgeted Rs 120 billion earmarked during the first three months of the year, stated Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to t

January 18, 2020

The government disbursed Rs 28 billion as cash transfers under the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) - 32 percent of the total budgeted Rs 120 billion earmarked during the first three months of the year, stated Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Chairperson BISP Friday.
The pace of disbursements will pick up as the verification process of BISP beneficiaries was completed end-December 2019, Chairman BISP told BR, adding that BISP does not include spending by Bait-ul-Mal and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) on social sectors. Additionally Rs 5 billion has also been released for scholarship program, added Dr Nishtar.
She further stated that Rs 54 billion is earmarked for other components of Prime Minister Imran Khan's signature Ehsaas Program, including 'kifalat' and health cards.
Dr Nishtar acknowledged that on the request of Finance Division, BISP had surrendered Rs 6 billion for the Utility Stores Corporation (USC).
Dr Sania Nishtar said that the biggest challenge for her after assuming office was to reform the BISP cash transfer system. A decision was taken, she added, that before disbursing the second quarterly cash transfers a new system be first put in place.
She added that systematic theft was taking place in BISP disbursement and a mafia that included BISP officials and others had been benefiting from the old payment system. Sania Nishtar said that a new biometric system has been put in place after signing cash transfer contracts with two banks short listed through a transparent and competitive bidding system.
Dr Nishtar said that the second installment of BISP was delayed primarily because the government's priority was to ensure that tax payers' money reaches the deserving families and not be plundered by the mafia.
She also claimed that operational cost of cash transfers under the new contracts has been reduced from 2.7 percent to 0.6 percent with an annual saving of Rs 2 billion.
She said that ATMs are being opened by the banks and points of sales (POS) are being increased. "We are increasing number of beneficiaries and size of stipend," Dr Nishtar said and added that over 6 board meetings were held during the last fourteen months.
The BISP Board approved conflict of interest policy, whistle blowing policy, risk register, error fraud and corruption framework, and internal audit norms. The board decided to shift BISP accounting system from cash to accrual basis and it was fully converted to e-office. She said that since the new payment system has been rolled out, it was decided by BISP Board to use the new system rather than the old one for all cash transfers this year.
The BISP Board approved the Nutrition Conditional Cash Transfer program to address stunting in children; an increase in education stipend amount for girls from Rs 750 to Rs 1,000; and the plan to extend the educational conditional cash transfer program from 50 to 100 districts, added Nishtar. The conditional cash transfer program has been designed to bring out-of-school children to school.
She said that several reform measures are under way and BISP is undergoing a multi-pronged process of integrity reform. She added that no board meeting was held for 11 months in 2018; however, four board meetings have been held between December 2018 and July 2019.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020