ISLAMABAD: The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) has stopped providing cash grants to over 1.78 million beneficiaries because of ‘budgetary constraints’.
According to details released by the cabinet division on Friday, the BISP has removed the people from the list of beneficiaries because they do not qualify to get the Rs1000 stipend per month as a consequence of the poverty scorecard survey.
A cut-off poverty score of 16.17 has been set by the government after the survey’s results compiled by the BISP, keeping in view the budgetary allocation for the programme. Currently, about six million families registered with the BISP receive the stipend.
The cabinet division said families having a higher score might also be poor but could not be accommodated at this stage because of budgetary constraints and only the poorest and most deserving had become eligible for BISP benefits.
The names of 888,319 people have been removed from the beneficiaries list in Punjab, 410,480 in Sindh, 307,876 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 102,175 in Balochistan, 38,865 in Azad Kashmir, 24,140 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 14,217 in the federal capital.
Addressing a press conference, BISP Chairperson Farzana Raja said: “About 30 per cent of the country’s population is living below the poverty level and we have decided to set the cut-off mark after the survey because Rs200 billion would be required to help all the poor. That is why BISP facility has been withdrawn from 1.7 million people and we are ensuring that priority should be given to families having special persons.”
HEALTH INSURANCE: The BISP chief announced that a health insurance scheme had been launched under the programme to provide free medical treatment to 75,000 deserving families.
She said the scheme had initially been launched in Faisalabad where each deserving family would get Rs25,000 a year to get treatment from six private hospitals. About 5500,000 people will benefit from the scheme that will be introduced across the country during the current financial year to cover six million people.
Ms Raja said private insurance companies had also been consulted before launching the scheme.
Counters of the State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) will be opened in the hospitals where the charges would be deducted after treatment from cards issued to the beneficiaries. Money will be transferred every year to the cards that can only be used for the treatment of admitted patients.
Ms Raja said the BISP wanted to launch the scheme in all government hospitals.
The World Bank (WB) and a German company, GIZ, will provide financial and technical help for the insurance scheme.
“About 40 million people are getting benefit from the BISP. I had four dreams to achieve. First one was ‘smart cards’ to provide money to deserving persons without any middleman and their distribution will begin on Saturday. Second was Wasila-i-Taleem programme through which one million children will be sent to school and the WB has provided $350 million for the project. Third was health insurance that has been announced and the fourth was Wasila-i-Haq through which interest-free loans of Rs12 billion will be distributed among 35,000 youths to launch their own businesses,” the BISP chief said.
She said that those criticising the programme had failed to draw benefits from it in violation of merit.
She warned that some gangs were sending text messages offering BISP services for money and people should inform the programme’s centres about any such activity. “The complaints will be referred to the law enforcement departments.”
SLIC Chairman Shahid Aziz Siddiqui and BISP Secretary Sher Khan signed an agreement for the health insurance scheme on the occasion.