Issuance of 'Benazir Smart Cards' in the offing

ISLAMABAD Under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), poverty survey has been completed in 16 districts of Balochistan and process of distribution of 'Benazir Smart Cards among six million identified families of these areas will be initiated shortly. Chairperson BISP, Farzana Raja made this announcement, while addressing a press briefing here on Wednesday. She said the remaining districts would also be covered till June, and the proposed health insurance plan will also be launched in June this year. The vocational training will also be imparted to the one member of the registered families to raise their living standards, making them economically stable she added. She believed that the poverty survey was the first of its kind in South Asia. Once the survey results are ready after data entry and verification/validation, a cut-off score will be fixed in terms of the scorecard survey, she added She was of the view that the poor and underprivileged people of Pakistan had been suffering due to lack of a comprehensive social protection system. The main focus of the programme is on women empowerment and poverty alleviation, and BISP is the main social safety net programme of the Government of Pakistan she noted. She informed that the budgetary allocation for BISP in the financial year 2010-11 was estimated at Rs.90 billion, whereas for 2008-10, it was Rs 40 billion covering 2.7 million families and BISP planned to cover 5 to 7 million families in the medium term by the year 2010-11. She said that soon BISP offices would be established at Tehsil level to facilitate beneficiaries. On the occasion, she also announced the toll free number for complaints registration. She said that Benazir Smart Cards project was launched on pilot basis in four identified districts including Multan, Sanghar, Mianwali and Mirpur. While giving the exact figures, she said 86431 families in Multan, 51709 in Sanghr, 20761 in Mianwali and 19780 families in Mirpur were benefiting from that facility. A cash grant of Rs 2000 to each member is disbursed after every two month to the BISP beneficiaries, and covering 5 million families in 2009-10 means paying cash benefits to almost 16 percent of the total population.

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