ISLAMABAD, Jan 17 (APP): President Mamnoon Hussain Tuesday urged expension of the Benazir Income Support Programme to reach out to the poor who have not yet been reached and take measures for self-dependence of those already benefitting from it.
Addressing the launch of BISP Impact Evaluation Report here, the president said in order to make the poor self-reliant, the BISP will have to conduct training sessions in backward areas.
The impact evaluation was carried out by a third party Oxford Policy Management that highlighted the positive outcomes of the South Asia’s largest social safety net besides pointing out the challenges for their onward redressal in the future.
Chairperson BISP Marvi Memon, Special Assistant to PM Khawaja Zaheer Ahmed, Secretary Yasmeen Masood, parliamentarians and representatives of development sector and BISP officers attended the event.
The impact report revealed that BISP has reduced the poverty rate by seven percent points and was leading to an increase in per adult equivalent monthly food consumption by Rs69 driven by higher quality of protein.
The programme, now serving around 5.4 million women through Rs 115 billion fund, has led to decrease in deprivation against indicators of living standards among beneficiaries.
President Mamnoon appreciated the BISP for having a critical eye on its performance and expressed pleasure over the increasing reach of the programme to the poor of far flung areas.
He hoped that a successful execution of the programme would lead to the swift alleviation of the poverty and make the beneficiaries self-reliant enabling them to play their role in national development.
President Mamnoon said BISP had not only become the largest social welfare programme of South Asia but was also counted among the world’s largest and most effective programmes.
Quoting the report, the president observed that consequent to the government’s sincere efforts, the number of beneficiary families had increased from 1.7 million to 5.5 million with the government’s budgetary allocation also increasing from Rs16 billion to Rs115 billion. President Mamnoon Hussain, who is also the patron-in- chief of the BISP, said the programme had also introduced biometrics identification system that would remove the possibilities of corruption and help to transfer of the amount to the deserving women.
“These steps manifest the government’s love for the people, good intentions and sincere efforts to uplift the living standard of the deprived segment of society,” he said.
The president suggested that in its next evaluation report, the BISP should take into consideration the training sessions for the BISP beneficiaries that would not only make financially self-dependent and would also bring a good repute to Pakistan.
He said the objective of BISP’s Waseela-e-Taleem programme was to bring the poor children into mainstream that had so far enrolled 1.3 million.
He hoped that the education component of the BISP would help improve literacy rate in the country.
Chairperson Marvi Memon said the BISP never concealed its evaluation from the public thus uploaded those on the official website as they had been accountable to people, leadership as well as the parliament.
She was pleased to note that evaluation report had indicated improvement in the BISP working and outcomes.
Marvi Memon said even the world was learning from the working of the BISP for what the staffers deserved congratulations.
She said the PML-N government had increased the budgetary allocation from Rs 40 billion to Rs 115 billion for the BISP that was the brainchild of finance minister Ishaq Dar.
The chairperson shared with the audience the views of the BISP beneficiary women hailing from all federating units which proved their empowerment and enriched their value in the family as well as the society.
She said even the women from Mohmand Agency had started exercising their right to vote feeling empowered after having
enhance control over cash transfer.
She said the BISP was introducing biometrics identification system for facilitation of illiterate women who did not know to operate the ATMs.
She told that the BISP was desirous to link beneficiaries with the poverty-exit programmes for their self-reliance in future.
Marvi Memon also presented a copy of the Impact Evaluation Report to the president.
In his presentation on the Impact Evaluation Report,Country Manager Oxford Policy Management Sean O’Leary said change in livelihood strategies have led to overall reduction in dependence of beneficiary households on casual labour as main source of income.
He said during their study, they conducted around 1,000 interviews and collected data through four rounds of interviews.
He also shared the views of the beneficiary women showing trust in money transfer through ATMs and that the cash grant was improving their status in the society.
He said through conditional Rs 750 per quarter cash grant of Waseela-e-Taleem, current enrolment of children aged 5-12 had increased by 10 points which was higher than the international average.
The proportion of multidimensional poor has decreased from 31 percent in 2013 to 23 percent in 2016.
The report appreciates the good targeting mechanism of BISP as 91% of BISP beneficiaries were either ultra poor, poor or vulnerable to being poor in 2016 as defined by PBS with low literacy rate of only 9% .
Under Waseela-e-Taleem initiative, school attendance deprivation on MPI indicator has reduced from 56% in 2013 to 49% in 2016.
Proportion of beneficiary women who can visit market alone has gone up from 25% in 2011 to 37% in 2016.
Due to collection of cash transfer this mobility has increased and is also having an effect on independence of women other than the beneficiaries. The constitution of 55,000 beneficiary committees has contributed much towards women empowerment through BISP.
BISP brought 5.4 million women voters on electoral list by providing them CNICs .
The number of women voters in beneficiary household has increased from 40% in 2011 to 70% in 2016 showing massive change in implementation of democratic rights.
Financial inclusion of 5.4 million women has improved country indicators as 76% of women retain full control on their in 2016 versus 64% in 2014.
The report indicates that BISP has resulted in a decrease in the deprivations against indicators of living standards in terms of quality of flooring and cooking fuel used in their households.
An increase in proportion of beneficiary households has been reported that own small livestock. BISP also had a positive and statistically significant effect on the proportion of households that own TV (14%), bike (7%), cooking stove (12%), washing machine (13%) and heater (4%).The report indicates an overall reduction in dependence of beneficiary households on causal labor as main source of income, increased household investment in health and education. Financial savings has increased over the period 2011-2016 from 9% to 13%. 80% of the beneficiaries spend the fund on food.
Child immunization deprivation on MPI indicator has reduced from 17% in 2013 to 13% in 2016 due to BISP. Drinking water deprivation on MPI indicator has reduced from 27% in 2013 to 19% in 2016.
Proportion of beneficiaries who paid a `fee’ to collect last transfer was 40% in 2013 and in 2016 it has been reduced to 22% showing crackdown on beneficiary voluntarily created agent mafia.
Direct costs of travel to the collection point are relatively low amounting to 2% of the total value of the cash transfer. Average time nationwide taken to reach payment point was 48 minutes in 2013 which has now been reduced to 35 minutes in 2016.
Overall 96% of beneficiaries are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their experience in how they collected the cash transfer. 33% beneficiaries collect cash themselves,32% get it collected by household member and 35% by some other individual.
Secretary BISP Yasmeen Masood, in her welcome note, thanked the president and other guests for gracing the occasion.
She stated that the evaluation report outlines the effectiveness of programme, informs the stake holders of its performance and provides guidelines to improve future practice and policy.