Chairperson pushes for BISP structure revamp

Dr Sania says putting organisational governance in order a priority

APP December 24, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Chairperson Dr Sania Nishtar on Sunday expressed her commitment to revamp the structure of the programme through strengthening it as a social safety net, making it more transparent, plugging critical systems gaps and putting organisational governance in order.

The meeting of BISP Board would be held on December 24 with a vision to devise strategies with a view to strengthening fiduciary systems, financial management and procurement systems, internal controls, and capacity and systems for planning, she said in a statement.

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The BISP is Pakistan’s largest safety net institution, which currently runs a Rs125 billion income-support programme for 5.7 million poor women with an envisaged impact for over 37 million individuals, nationally.

She said BISP has many legacy issues, which were tried by the successive managements to address. Several gaps have been plugged, but many critical gaps remain to be closed, she added. She said BISP’s payment mechanism needs a redesign besides strengthening it.

Dr Sania Nishtar said her priority is to institutionalise risk management and assurance, transparency, and a culture of evidence-based decision-making.

She said she is deeply conscious that those that benefit from the programme are voiceless, which is why beneficiary empowerment and respect is also high on the list of priorities.

In this regard, she expressed her commitment to work with the Board and management to reform BISP’s systems pillars.

Once critical gaps are plugged, the existing safety net system can be expanded, and the adequacy of the benefits can be increased as per government policy, especially with regard to complementary investments for human capital development (conditional cash transfers for nutrition, health, and education) and graduation programs, she said.

In addition, demand-side safety net instruments can be introduced for protection against crises and catastrophic shocks, a salient safety net feature. She said "I envision BISP as a dynamic digital social protection ecosystem for the future.

In such an ecosystem, it would be possible to develop targeted policy interventions and deliver precise means tested benefits to the poor and vulnerable by employing big data analysts and by tracking real-time information about the evolution of the beneficiary status, to make social protection adaptive."

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This will enable time-bound support for income stabilization and protection against catastrophic shocks on the one hand, and the creation of economic opportunities to decrease welfare-dependency, through relevant partnerships, on the other, she added.

In addition, this will also move Pakistan closer to delivering on its global commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 1.3, which entails “[developing] nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all”, Dr Sania Nishtar said.


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