LAHORE - The US is trying to develop 'direct contact with Pakistani people by giving direct financial assistance to the poorest among the masses through cash grant of $ 85 million for the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). Sources close to the BISP confided to The Nation that from now onwards the US money (grant) would go straight into the kitchens of the poor people through the poverty alleviation programme of the Federal government. The credit goes to the PPP government, which launched the poverty alleviation programme BISP, which attracted the US. It was also approved and praised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and thus won US financial assistance, a high ranking official requesting not to be named commented. The government is expanding the BISP with the help of the US and World Bank (WB), and for this purpose the Federal government has conducted poverty survey in 16 districts of the country, which has been named as 'poverty census. The WB has sponsored poverty survey by giving $ 30 million aid for poverty assessment alone. With this money, poverty survey in 16 districts chosen as 'model from all provinces has been almost completed. The US has granted $ 85 million for the BISP while it will give more aid if the programme is expanded and monitored strictly. The WB desired involvement of private NGOs in the process of poverty assessment, as the government departments do not have good repute for data collection and surveys. Accordingly, Population Census Organisation (PSO) along with few other private NGOs visiting door to door in 16 districts have collected data of 2.5 million new poor families out of which 0.6 million families have been identified as extreme poor. The districts where poverty census has been completed include Mianwali, Multan, Layya, Pakpatan, Bhakar, Sanghar, Mirpur, Thar (desert area), Qila Saifullah, and Loralai. The poverty survey of Balochistan is on top priority and will be completed till June 2010. BISP Chairperson Farzana Raja while talking to this scribe said that it was a success of the PPP government that the US had joined hands with Pakistan for poverty alleviation through the BISP. She revealed that after a recent poverty census 2.5 million new families had been identified for giving financial support of regular cheques of Rs 2000 after every two months under the scheme. She said 0.6 million families out of 2.5 million families were extreme poor and such households would be priority of the government. To a question Farzana said the US aid would be distributed among the newly identified extreme poor families and for expanding the programme to more families. She said it was just not a cheque of Rs 2000 that people will get under the programme rather one family would cost Rs 40,000 per annum to the government as the programme packages include free medicines, medical treatment, insurance and vocational training for one person from each household registered under the programme. She said the number of BISP beneficiaries was being increased from current 5 million to 7 million households and this step would help reduce poverty up to 20 per cent.