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LAHORE: The Auto Teller Machines (ATMs) of banks are flooded with long queues of the beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) in the city amidst extreme cold after the resumption of disbursement a week before.

A large number of women beneficiaries were found queuing up at designated ATMs of Habib Bank Limited, particularly in slum areas of the city, to withdraw the allocated amount. They start gathering outside the ATMs in the afternoon and keep withdrawing their stipends late in the evening. A good number of women also bring their male members along in order to operate the ATMs, as the majority of them are not tech-savvy.

While talking to this scribe, the majority of them complained about long queues in extremely cold weather, saying that it was not easy for them to keep waiting in queues while holding their children in their laps.

Some of them have also complained about slow operations of ATMs, saying that they are supposed to wait long for their turn and most of them leave without cash due to multiple reasons. They pointed out that swindlers were actively charging commissions for helping them out in withdrawing money from ATMs. When asked why they were not complaining against them on the announced number, they said they had no idea on which number they can lodge their complaint.

Meanwhile, a large number of those who are not registered with the programme have started queries as to how they could become part of the programme. They said they are informed that they are ineligible for the programme as and when they send a text message to the designated number.

It may be noted that Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Faisal Karim Kundi has said that preparations for the next BISP Dynamic Survey have been completed and soon Co-chairman of PPP Asif Ali Zardari will inaugurate it. Kundi said that the federal government has disbursed Rs70 billion to flood-hit families. He had informed the media back on January 10 that the government has disbursed Rs55 billion among 7.7 million beneficiaries under Benazir Kafalat till now while Rs13 billion distributed under the BISP Waseela-e-Taleem programme.

Pakistan is in the news for economic meltdown amidst natural disasters, food shortages and poverty. Market reports say a PKR 1200 bag of 20 kg of flour has shot up to PKR 300. Pakistan’s poverty rate has risen by 35.7% and ranks 92 out of 116 on the list of countries on the International Poverty Index.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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