ISLAMABAD - The federal government has decided to increase the monthly stipend of Benazir Income Support Programme by Rs 66.67, keeping in view the inflation rate in the country.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in consultation with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, has decided to enhance monthly stipend from Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,566.67. The annual stipend to BISP beneficiaries has been increased from Rs 18,000 to 18,800 per annum in accordance with increase in CPI (consumer price index) during the last year, said the finance minister.

“The decision would contribute to mitigating the effect of inflation on the BISP beneficiaries,” he added. The stipend at the enhanced rate of Rs 4,700 per beneficiary per quarter would be payable with effect from July 1, 2015. The arrears would be paid along with the next installment, Dar added. The Finance Division has already issued instructions to BISP to ensure disbursement of quarterly stipend at the enhanced rate.

The finance minister further said the government was fully committed to protecting the most vulnerable segments of the society and for this purpose the annual allocation for BISP had been enhanced from Rs 40 billion to Rs 105 billion while the annual stipends had been enhanced from Rs 12,000 to Rs 18,000 during the last two years. These have now been further increased to Rs 18,800 per beneficiary per annum.

Pakistan has assured the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of expanding the BISP beneficiaries to 5.3 million by the end of June 2016 from 5.14 million beneficiaries of September 2015. “If additional donor support can be secured, we will also increase the stipends. We have already signed amendments in the contracts executed with the commercial banks working with BISP to improve the service delivery to the beneficiaries and to reduce cost,” Dar said.

“In partnership with the provincial governments, the federal government has rolled out education-conditional cash transfers (CCT). As of end-September 2015, the government is disbursing in 32 districts. Currently, more than 700,000 children are beneficiaries of the CCT. We will expand the total number of children benefitting from the programme to 1 million by end-March 2016,” the government has told to the IMF.