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ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee on Tuesday expressed displeasure with Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) for delaying the survey of poor women.

“For three years the committee has been asking the BISP to complete its poverty survey that could have been done in two months,” said Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Problems of Less Developed Areas Senator Mohammad Usman Khan Kakar.

The committee met to discuss the performance of BISP and details of the poverty surveys and future plans.

Previous surveys were 50pc inaccurate and half of the money disbursed to poor went to undeserving people, Senator Usman Khan Kakar says

The BISP is one of the major instruments of the government to achieve targets set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It is a targeted unconditional cash transfer programme implemented by focusing on poor women.

While 90pc of BISP initiatives are funded by the government, the remaining 10pc comes from donor organisations such as Asian Development Bank, World Bank and Department for International Development.

The chairman of the committee said poverty surveys of the past were about 50pc inaccurate.

“Half of the money disbursed among the poor went to wrong and undeserving people,” Mr Kakar lamented.

Besides various other reasons, BISP cited a lack of funds as a major reason for the delay in the survey.

BISP Secretary Omer Hamid Khan said the survey would start immediately after funds were provided in September.

“BISP had to surrender its funds because the government needed money for other projects,” said Mr Khan.

He corrected the chairman by saying that the survey in the past was inaccurate by about 20pc.

He put the blame on companies hired to conduct the survey which had been replaced by new companies to ensure transparency.

“The countrywide poverty survey will now be completed in December,” the official assured the committee.

The committee was informed that BISP had now adopted a new approach - door to door survey covering 87pc population or 27 million households in the country.

The registry enables BISP to identify eligible households through an application comprising 23 questions to determine welfare status of the household.

The approach helps understand geographic locations of households, number of its members, gender age, levels of education, information about livestock and agricultural assets etc.

“International best practices suggest updating the information periodically within five to seven years to ensure validity of the data. The pilot phase of the survey covers 140 districts divided into eight clusters. Survey preparations have already been initiated in two clusters and work on others is also underway,” Mr Khan told the committee.

The committee also learnt that to date Rs590 billion had been disbursed among 5.7 million beneficiaries through computerised mechanisms.

The committee expressed disappointment over vacant posts in the BISP throughout the country. Out of 4,133 positions, only 2,077 posts were filled. The 2,088 positions are vacant due to a ban on hiring for 10 years, the BISP secretary said.

“The hiring regulations were approved last week to fill the vacant positions,” he added.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2018