ISLAMABAD  -  Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme has said that BISP is the name of an Act and an institution and there is no formal discussion on the name change of the programme.

“No amendment has been placed before the parliament to change its name and there has been no formal discussion on the subject,” Chairperson BISP Dr Sania Nishtar said here.

The chairperson statement seems to be an attempt to calm down a controversy which was generated last week when Prime Minister Imran Khan and some leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf hinted to change the name of BISP what they alleged the PPP was misusing the poverty alleviation project for political mileage.

Sindh Governor and PTI leader Imran Ismail said the PTI government is definitely going to change the name of the programme.

The PTI leader’s statement drew strong reaction from Pakistan People’s Party and Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari alleged that the government was conspiring to wrap up the project by initially changing its name and then reducing its funds.

Even PTI’s central leader and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also opposed the move and has clearly stated he does not support the idea of changing the name of BISP. Changing the programme name is a legislative matter which requires a legal process, he added.

Sania Nishtar said that a number of programmes are currently executed from BISP including Unconditional Cash Transfers, Conditional Cash Transfers, Waseela-e-Taleem, Graduation Programme etc, she said.

The Chairperson BISP further said that the government has recently launched a transformative poverty alleviation programme with the title “Ehsaas”. Two of the initiatives under this new programme will be executed through BISP. These include “Kifalat” and “Tahafuz”, details about which will be published shortly.

When contacted an official of the BISP told The Nation that legal experts are of the opinion that since the BISP was established under an Act(XVIII of 2010 ) of Parliament which said: “upon the commencement of this act, the Benazir Income Support Programme shall stand established for carrying out the purposes of this act,”. The Act further said: “The programme shall be a body corporate having perpetual succession and a common seal with powers, subject to the provision of this act, to acquire and hold property, moveable and immoveable, and to sue and be sued by its name,”.

The programme’s establishment objects and purposes are cleary determined by the Act of parliament, said the official.

It means if even PTI government intends to change the BISP name it cannot do it, permanently by simply issuing an executive order. To permanently erase Benazir name or change the programme name the government has to go to Parliament to amend the act. Since the government is not in majority in senate therefore it will be hard to get the amendment passed from the parliament. However, he said that the government can change the name temporarily for 120 days through a presidential ordinance.