ISLAMABAD, Nov 7: On the advice of the prime minister, President Mamnoon Hussain on Thursday appointed former senator Enver Baig as the chairman of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
Mr Baig will assume the charge on Friday (today) and it is expected that soon he will get the status of a federal minister like his predecessor Farzana Raja.
Mr Baig had left the PPP and joined the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) at a time when his previous Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was ruling the country.
Mr Baig, who had been given the ticket of the Senate by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, resigned from the party when he was issued a show-cause notice by the PPP for meeting PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif without the consent of party chairperson and President Asif Ali Zardari last year.
Instead of giving a written reply to the notice, Mr Baig sent his resignation to the party leadership and later joined the PML-N.
The BISP was initiated in October 2008 with an initial allocation of Rs34 billion by the previous PPP government.
The present government in its first federal budget attempted to change the name of the programme, but later deferred the plan fearing a strong reaction by the main opposition PPP.
The allocation for the financial year 2012-13 stood at Rs70 billion to provide cash assistance to 5.5 million families which constituted almost 18 per cent of the population of the country.
The programme aims at covering almost 40 per cent of the population below the poverty line.
The enrolled families are paid cash assistance of Rs1,000 per month on a quarterly basis.
Long-term interest free returnable financial assistance, vocational and technical training, health and life insurance coverage are also provided under the programme.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Baig said that he would set out his priorities for making the programme a success after formally assuming the charge.
He said that he would try to make the people self-dependent through financial assistance.