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ISLAMABAD: A day after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced a 25 per cent increase in the budget of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety (PASS) Minister Shazia Marri, Thursday, failed to share with the media the relevant modalities related to this announced increase—only confirming that the BISP budget was being increased.

The number of BISP beneficiaries would be increased to nine million by this June, she further said.

Addressing a presser, the minister said, the “monetisation policy” launched back in the year 2012 when Yousuf Raza Gillani(from Pakistan People’s Party) was the prime minister, was never implemented in letter and spirit. Efforts are underway to implement this policy and a committee has been constituted in this regard, she said.

Ahead of the minister’s presser, it was widely believed among the media circles that the minister would share some key details about the increase related to the BISP— as announced by the prime minister on Wednesday.

But, contrary to the expectations, the PASS minister, who also holds the portfolio of BISP chairperson, did not share the relevant details to this effect, and devoted most part of her more than 30-minute presser to criticising Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and former prime minister Imran Khan, levelling serious accusations against him.

Marri held Khan responsible for the “economic debacle the country faces today.”

The PASS minister said the government’s austerity measures would save up to 200 billion rupees of the national exchequer and structural reforms would be carried out soon for this purpose.

The minister stated that the BISP’s budget was being increased to “extend the financial benefits to the maximum deserving population.”

Earlier on Monday, the federal government in Senate refused to allow an increase in the stipend offered to deserving beneficiaries under the BISP by opposing the Benazir Income Support (Amendment) Bill 2022 that led to the rejection of this private bill by the house.

Treasury Senator Samina Mumtaz Zehri from Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) was the mover of the Benazir Income Support (Amendment) Bill 2022.

On the final day of the Senate’s “mini-budget session,” Samina Zehri sought from the house leave to move the Benazir Income Support (Amendment) Bill 2022.

She said the bill aimed to amend Benazir Income Support Act 2010 to increase the financial stipend for BISP beneficiaries.

However, State Law Minister Shahadat Awan, who represents the PPP, opposed the bill citing a shortage of funds.

Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani held a voice vote on the bill which led to the rejection of the bill by majority vote.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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