ISLAMABAD  - Pakistan might face trouble in receiving next tranche of US$550 million expected in May from the International Monetary Fund which has set a condition that BISP must meet the targets given by the IMF regarding cash transfers to beneficiaries, a goal seems hard to be achieved due to certain reasons.

In an effort to make its image better, the IMF, known for its strict and anti-public interest polices, had imposed a condition on the government while signing Extended Fund Facility that it will ensure BISP to transfer unconditional cash assistance to at least 4.90, 5.0, 5.35 and 5.70 million people across the country in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarter respectively.

Later, on the request of the government, targets were revised by IMF and decreased to 4.06, 4.16, 4.25 and 4.47 million people to be benefitted from BISP as per loan condition. The BISP has achieved the first 2 quarters' targets and have distributed amounts among the beneficiaries.

Now due to certain reasons that involve lack of coordination on the part of Nadra for issuance of CNICs to beneficiaries, expired contracts with banks which led to slowdown of Benazir Debit Card issuance across the country and absence of a robust mobilisation campaign at the field offices level, BISP might not meet the targets of 3rd quarter.

IMF will release one tranche of US $ 550 million in March this year after BISP achieved the targets of 2nd quarter but on the next release that is expected in May this year, the government might have to explain the reasons of not meeting the targets to convince IMF for releasing the amount.

BISP officials believe that non-issuance of CNICs by Nadra is the key reason behind failure to achieve target, without which they could not transfer cash assistance to the beneficiaries. It is interesting to note that IMF has never imposed a condition on the government regarding collection of taxes which is vital and in the larger interest of the country and people as well. It is also to be mentioned here that IMF has not changed its stance on the subject of subsidies and still it desires the government to reduce burden of subsidies.

Chairman BISP Enver Baig at Directors General (DGs) conference on February 6 had given quarterly targets to regional offices, who further distributed the quantum of work to divisional, district and tehsil offices. As per spokesman of BISP, Enver Baig is on a whirlwind tour of the country to monitor personally the pace of BISP activities in the regions. He has recently visited Karachi, Lahore and Abbottabad to follow the targets given to the regions during the DGs conference.

He said chairman BISP directed his officers to improve their coordination with Nadra for issuance of CNICs to beneficiaries and to pursue the matter vigorously with the banks to resume the process of issuance of BDCs to the beneficiaries who have not yet received their cards.