Islamabad - The incumbent government is committed to the cause of helping the poor segment of our population and Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is the most important tool for this purpose, said Secretary BISP Shabbir Ahmed, who was briefing a gathering of journalists on the recent developments at the programme, here on Monday.

Informing journalists about the targets of BISP, the secretary said the programme is committed to the expansion of cash disbursements to the poorest of the poor. He said that transparency and efficiency would be given highest priority while ensuring the smooth delivery of services to the poor.

BISP has recently picked up the pace of its activities in the field, with over 70,000 beneficiaries provided with fresh Debit Cards for receiving quarterly cash benefits of Rs4,500. In December, the BISP has released Rs21.3 billion for 4.7 million beneficiary families for the second quarter of CFY, a figure which stood at 4.63 million in the last month. Payment for over 22,000 children at Rs200 per month has also been released for Waseela-e-Taleem initiative of the programme.

Secretary BISP said that some of the major activities in BISP are in the pipeline like extension of Waseela-e-Taleem initiative for the beneficiary children in 32 districts around the country.

A significant degree of work has already been completed and registration of children into the initiative will commence during the next month. He said that the initiative is looking to target an enrollment of 1.5 million children in primary schools in the next two years.

The secretary BISP informed about the mechanisms at BISP to ensure transparency and efficiency and talked about the grievance redressal system and modern payment mechanisms. He said that transparency is the first priority of the administration and for this purpose BISP is taking necessary steps, including a ‘payment verification interface’, which aims to eliminate unnecessary delays in payments to the beneficiaries and ensures a real-time monitoring by all stakeholders of the Programme. Explaining the state-of-the-art targeting system of BISP, he informed the programme is looking for improving the quality of data of 27m households, collected through the poverty survey. He held that the necessity of revisiting the National Socio-Economic Registry is being assessed. Best international practices would be kept in mind while taking any decision in this regard.

There were some concerns about some of the delays in programme operations during the briefing.

In response, the secretary said that transparency has to be ensured at all costs and all problems will be resolved without a compromise on the principles of fairness and objectivity.

He reiterated during the briefing that administrative issues persisted throughout the year but his team is working diligently for resolution of issues and there will be considerably visible progress in BISP in the next couple of months.