BISP chief buries name change controversy

Dr Nishtar says BISP introduced through parliamentary act, changing its name requires making amendment to the act


Shabbir Hussain April 09, 2019
Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Chairperson Dr Sania Nishtar has said the scheme has been introduced through a parliamentary act and its name cannot be changed without making an amendment to the act.

"The government has neither presented any bill in parliament for amendment nor examined it at a high level," said the BISP chairperson while addressing the media on Tuesday. The chairperson had called a special meeting of the journalists.

"The government has formed a new ministry named 'social protection and poverty alleviation coordination' to eliminate poverty and provide social protection," said Dr Nishtar, adding that the secretaries and labour expert group of the BISP, Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Poverty Alleviation Coordination, Pakistan Baitul Maal, Zakat, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and Trust for Voluntary Organisation had been made subordinate to the new ministry.

'Unclaimed BISP amount tops Rs5b'

Dr Nishtar said the purpose of forming social protection and poverty elimination coordination ministry was to put Pakistan on the path to becoming a welfare state like the state of Madina.

"This ministry will make efforts to eliminate poverty and injustice and provide facilities to the people on an equal basis," she said, adding that for the purpose, the government launched the Ehsas programme through which the poor would be looked after and social security ensured.

They would also be provided human resource and employment opportunities.

Dr Nishtar said, "The PM had announced the start of the Ehsas programme on March 27 and now a ministry has been formed for this purpose and it has been approved by the cabinet. Shaista Sohail has been appointed as the federal secretary and the ministry has started working.

"However, the decision to provide secretariat and employees to the ministry has still not been taken. To run the Ehsas programme, an additional budget of Rs80 billion will be set aside in the budget for the next financial year."

She said the basic purpose of forming the ministry was to improve the contact between all institutions which were working for the same purpose but with different names.

"Under this programme, one person will not be able to avail all the programmes at a time," she added.

Chairperson pushes for BISP structure revamp

She said the government would make amendment to Article 38 (D) of the Constitution to include roti, clothing, housing, education and medical facilities in the basic rights so that the state could take responsibility of all these things. She said, "A survey on the level of census is underway in the country to collect data of poor and deserving people and this will be completed by the end of December this year.

"People, who do not have the Insaf card, can call the Tahaffuz programme to avail help. Under the protection programme, people will be able to avail legal aid. Education grant will also be provided for the backward areas. Saving accounts of 5.7 million women will be made and they will be provided mobile phones so that they can acquire financial aid in a transparent matter.

"Under this programme, 500 digital hubs will be established at tehsil level so that apart from the financial aid, business ideas can be provided."

She further said, "A public-private partnership will be undertaken for the street children under the protection programme and help will be provided to transgender persons, widows, homeless persons, gypsies and those working as daily wagers.

"The Baitul Maal will construct sweet homes for 10,000 orphans and Ehsas homes for elders.

"Around 3.3 million families will be included in the Sehat card programme. "Programmes for diet, sanitation and breastfeeding are being brought so that the issues faced by the children in terms of dietary shortages can be addressed.

"The pension will be increased from Rs5,250 to Rs6,500."

She said the BISP board had approved error and fraud framework to eliminate corruption and fraud, adding that though corruption existed at every level, yet "we have to address the faults in the system".

"Steps are being taken along with the FIA and PTA to stop fake messages because it is an organised crime," she added.

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