Islamabad                   -           The government has increased the stipend for the beneficiaries of Ehsaas Kifalat Programme (Previously BISP beneficiaries) to Rs 2000 per month as all is set for launching of the pro-poor programme on Friday (tomorrow).

A total of 7 million deserving women will be enrolled across Pakistan under Ehsaas Kifalat Programme and in its first phase will be launched in 70 districts, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division, Dr. Sania Nishtar said while talking to media here Wednesday.

She said that the one million beneficiaries will be enrolled in the first phase in 70 districts will start receiving Kifalat stipends from February to March this year, while the registration of the rest of the deserving poor across Pakistan will be completed in phases during 2020.

Dr Sania said that all existing eligible beneficiaries of BISP will continue to be part of Kifalat Programme however the mode of payment is being changed from quarterly payments to monthly payments. Earlier the BISP beneficiaries used to get a stipend of Rs5000 quarterly which was later increased to Rs5500. However now the stipend under Kifalat programme has increased to quarterly Rs6000 where Rs2000 will be provided to the beneficiaries on monthly basis.

Regarding the enrollment of the beneficiaries, Dr Sania Nishter said that the beneficiaries will be identified through a household survey and Ehsaas NADRA Desk Registration Centers assisted by SMS and Kifalat web-service. At least one desk registration center has been established in each Tehsil.

A total of seven million most deserving women across the country will be enrolled in the Ehsaas Kifalat Programme to provide them cash assistance of Rs2000 monthly, interest free loans up to Rs75,000 and other facilities gradually in phases. The registered households will pass through the data analytics to verify their eligibility and will be paid the amount through the new biometric Ehsaas digital payment system to ensure transparency. The women having their own bank accounts and bio-metric enabled ATMs will be able to draw money from Point of Sales (PoS) agents, dedicated branches and ATMs of Habib Bank Limited and Alfalah Bank which will save them from exploitation of sale agents.

Dr. Sania Nishtar informed that the cash assistance of Rs2,000 will be given on monthly basis during the first week through opening of saving accounts of beneficiaries. The payment will be totally bio metric, made through two designated banks only and identification of beneficiaries will be conducted through door to door digital survey, data analytics, desk survey and web survey.

All Ehsaas graduation opportunities will be made available to the beneficiaries to uplift their living standard. The QR codes on Kifalat cards and bar codes on ID cards coupled with bio-metric verification can enable Kifalat to expand its horizon of support for the poor families, e.g., at utility stores and other service points in future, she said.

About the eligibility of the beneficiary she said that only the destitute are eligible under Kafaalat, while government servants and their spouses, taxpayers, car owners, people with history of multiple foreign travels are not eligible under Kafaalat.

Data analytics will be used to exclude individuals on these parameters, she added.

Regarding the mode of payment, the Special Advisor informed that Payment will be made through the new biometric Ehsaas Digital Payment System which will ensure transparency in payments. Under this, women will draw money from Point of Sales (PoS) agents, dedicated branches and Biometric enabled ATMs of Habib Bank and Alfalah Bank. Biometrically enabled ATMs have been opened for the first time, which means that women will not be hostage to Point of Sales agents and touts who used to deduct money from them, fraudulently, Designated bank branches have been opened for these poor women for the first time so that they can draw money with dignity. Each woman will have a bank account linked to her mobile phone to enable her to access economic opportunities

On the question that why was there a need for a new programme in relation with BISP, it was informed that the database based on which payments were being made was 10 years old, there was no mechanism of desk/web registration, in case, a house was missed in the survey, or if the socio-economic situation of a household changed, there was no use of data analytics in beneficiary identification, the contract with banks which formed the basis of payments was 10 years old and there were a lot of issues with the payment system, financial and digital inclusion opportunity was also missed.