ISLAMABAD: Keeping in view the prevailing situation in the country, the government has planned to expand the scope of the social safety net Benazir Income Support Prog­ram­me (BISP) and increase the number of beneficiaries to 10 million, said Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Welfare Shazia Marri.

The minister said that at present, eight million people were enrolled as beneficiaries for the financial assistance under the Benazir Kafalat and other schemes. One million will be included this year and another one million in the next year’s budget.

She said that the BISP programme is the biggest social welfare scheme not only in Pakistan but the whole South Asia. This is the reason that the government has increased the budgetary allocations for the Poverty Alleviation and Social Welfare Division to Rs372.32 billion which is 43.2 per cent more than the previous budget.

Of the total, an amount of Rs364 billion has been allocated for the BISP while Rs6 billion will be utilised for the schemes of Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal, she told a press conference.

Ms Marri said that 500,000 more people from Balochistan will be included in BISP, which would cover 65pc to 70pc population of the province. She said that more BISP centres would be established in the province.

Talking about other welfare schemes, she said that around three million children are getting Benazir Educational Stipends which would be increased to five million soon, while the budgetary allocations have been increased from Rs20bn to Rs36bn.

About the Benazir Nashonuma programme, Shazia Marri said that such welfare centres would be established in all districts of the country this year to address the issue of malnutrition amongst children.

To a question, Shazia Marri said that the previous government had changed the name of BISP into Ehsaas without fulfilling legal formalities just for the purpose of political point-scoring.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2022

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