Islamabad          -             Around 320711 (39 percent) of the total 820165 beneficiaries whose names have been struck off from the Benazir Income Support Programme’s (BISP) data belong to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and erstwhile FATA, Programme’s document reveals.

It further reveals that 29.67 percent or 243380 of those whose names have been deleted are from Punjab; 22.32 percent or 183042 belong to Sindh; 5.52 percent or 45380 are from Balochistan; 2.12 percent or 17361 people are from AJK; 1.01 percent or 8297 people are from Gilgit Baltistan, and 0.26 percent or 2094 people are from Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

Responding to Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) strong criticism of the government’s decision to remove the names of more than 820000 beneficiaries from the BISP list, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said that their names had been removed as their standard of living was above the criteria set for the extreme poor.

“Out of the total 820,165 beneficiaries whose names have been struck off, 14,730 were government employees, including of railways, post office and BISP,” she said, and added that 127,826 people were those whose spouses were government employees.

Among the beneficiaries axed from the list, 153,302 were those who travelled abroad once. Similarly, 195,364 were those whose spouses travelled abroad once. The number of beneficiaries who travelled abroad more than once stood at 10,476. The spouses of 166,319 beneficiary spouses travelled abroad more than once.

The BISP removed 692 people from its database because they owned one or more than one vehicle, while 43,746 were removed from the list because their spouses have one or more than one car.

Similarly, the names of 24,546 such people were deleted from the list who paid the monthly telephone bill of Rs1,000. Similarly, 155,767 persons were excluded from the database as their spouses paid Rs1,000 or more mobile phone bill.

For applying for passports via executive centers, names of 666 beneficiaries were struck off while names of 580 were removed as their spouses did the same. A total of 36,970 people were expelled from the list of BISP beneficiaries because three or more than three members of their family had paid executive fees for obtaining the computerized national identity cards.Meanwhile, the PTI government has increased the quarterly cash grant for 4.3 million beneficiaries of Ehsaas Kifalat Programme of BISP from Rs5,000 to Rs5,500.

The increased stipend will be given to only the deserving beneficiaries from the 2nd quarter of the 2019-20 i.e October – December 2019 quarterly cash grant, said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection and Chairperson BISP Dr. Sania Nishtar  here.

This increase would mean that the Government will provide Rs 8.6 billion more for cash transfers to the poorest of the poor, she said.  The decision in this regard was taken in Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister on Tuesday, she said.

She further added that BISP has now 4.27 million active beneficiaries after delisting 0.82 million undeserving beneficiaries.

Dr. Nishtar said that the increased stipend will be given to only the deserving beneficiaries from the 2nd quarter of the 2019-20 i.e October – December 2019 quarterly cash grant.  Referring to the ongoing disbursement to the beneficiaries, the SAMP said that BISP has already started the disbursement of cash grant for the 1st quarter through partner banks on the new Ehsaas Digital payment system. She said that this system is completely biometric and payments are only made after verification of thumb impressions by NADRA.

The present government continues to bring about significant governance improvements for creating a welfare State modeled on Riasat-e-Madina, she said.

She stated that the increase in the stipend amount would mean that the money saved from delisting 820,165 beneficiaries will be used for existing and truly deserving beneficiaries.

 The Chairperson said that BISP being the country’s largest social safety Programme is in the process of bringing more initiatives and programmes in education, health and nutrition for the welfare of the poor and marginalised segments of the society.  She added that the Government has already decided to enhance the cash transfer amount for mothers of girls to Rs. 1,000 per quarter.

This amount is in addition to the quarterly cash transfer of Rs. 5,500 and is paid to the mothers if the girl child attends a primary school. This programme is now being expanded to 100 districts with expenditure increased to Rs 8.2 billion on this account.