ISLAMABAD  - The World Bank (WB) approved a credit worth $150 million as additional financing for the Pakistan Social Safety Net Project aimed at supporting the expansion and strengthening the performance of country’s safety net system under the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP).

The project will assist the government in the evolution of BISP from basic cash transfers towards a more integrated national safety net system that promotes human development, in close partnership with other stakeholders, including the provincial governments.

“The Government of Pakistan is committed to establish an effective social safety net platform for a well coordinated, effective, and efficient support to the poor families,” said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

“The project will build on the achievements of BISP in establishing objective targeting system and use of modern technology and third party evaluations for program administration, and will provide avenues to capitalize on this foundation for benefiting the poorest population,” Richard added.

Focusing on results, the project would help finance costs associated with increasing coverage of basic cash grants to beneficiary families that are identified through the Poverty Scorecard. It would also be introducing co-responsibility cash transfers linked to beneficiaries’ children primary education; and strengthening operations and management systems within the BISP.

“The introduction of a co-responsibility cash transfers under the Waseela-e-Taleem (`Source of Education’) program will help the beneficiary families to enrol and ensure school attendance of their children aged between 5 to 12 years.” said Iftikhar Malik, Co Team Leader of the project.

Malik said the initiative will increase the demand for primary education amongst the poor in Pakistan and thus complement the Bank’s engagement in the education sector for improving both access and quality of education.

The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm. It carries a 0.75% service charge, and 1.25 percent interest rate 5 years of grace period and a maturity of 25 years.