Graduation from poverty initiative through PPAF launched

The Prime Minister Pakistan , Imran Khan launched graduation from poverty initiative through PPAF on Friday here in Islamabad.

The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation & Chairperson BISP Dr. Sania Nishtar presented her keynote speech at the launching ceremony of National Poverty Graduation Initiative.  Her speech can be viewed and watched through this link.

 

Courtesy:  Public News

BISP to hire for its World bank funded project

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Benazir Income Support Program has announced the following positions for individual consultants for fulltime job at its headquarter in Islamabad.  The consulting services are required for the National Social Protection programme funded by the World Bank.

Principal Technology Advisor (1)

Research Associate (2)

Monitoring & Evaluations Coordinator (2)

Monitoring Specialist (1)

Quality Assurance Coordinator (1)

Android Developer (1)

Information Security Specialist (1)

Data Scientist (1)

Technical Writer (1)

Finance Officer (1)

Conditional Cash Transfer Coordinator (1)

EFCF (Error Fraud & Corruption Framework Implementation) Expert (1)

Deadline for the submitting applications and CVs (form available on the website of BISP) is May 20th, 2019.

BISP set to speedily undertake measures to tackle poverty: Sania

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ISLAMABAD: Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Dr Sania Nishtar has said her organisation would speedily implement a range of social protection measures in coming months to boost the government efforts to reduce poverty and create new opportunities for vulnerable sections of society.

Talking to this agency here, she said the new Ehsaas programme launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 27 was a priority poverty reduction measure and will focus on four areas and 115 policy actions to reduce inequality, invest in people, and uplift lagging districts. The programme is aimed at helping the downtrodden and vulnerable segments of society, including the poor, orphans, widows, homeless, disabled, undernourished and jobless.

She told that Benazir Income Support Programme will execute two new social protection programmes Kifalat and Tahafuz. The programme of Kifalat will ensure financial and digital inclusion of around 6 million women through the one woman one bank account policy.

There will be an inflation adjustment in the size of the cash transfers to the women. Five hundred digital hubs will be set up at the tehsil level under Kifalat where government’s digital resources will be made accessible as a public good and will include information systems, online curricula and one window social protection interfaces to create opportunities for poor families to graduate out of poverty.

BISP will add Rs80 billion to the social protection spending in the forthcoming budget of 2019-20 and in the next budget 2020-21 there will be a further increase and incrementally the amount would be enhanced to Rs120 billion or at one per cent of the GDP with federal and provincial contribution.

The government has recently created Ministry of Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Coordination to address current fragmentation of its organizations.

Benazir Income Support Program, Baitul Mal, Zakaat, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, Trust for Voluntary Organizations, the SUN Network, Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and secretariats of the Poverty Alleviation Coordination Council and Labour Expert Group will be under this ministry.

According to BISP, about 38.8 per cent of people in Pakistan suffer from poverty in one form or another and 24.4 per cent do not have enough money to satisfy their basic food and non-food needs.

The government needs to identify the poor precisely to make government subsidies, targeted. Dr Sania said her organization will update the National Socioeconomic Registry along with multiple validations of the registry through follow up review surveys and use of big data analytics to correctly and precisely identity the real poor.

Later it will be turned into a live registry with constant updates. She said Tahafuz will be the other programme to protect the poor and vulnerable against financial shocks and will involve one time financial assistance in the face of catastrophic events.

It will also give assistance to poor widows who don’t have any earning children. The programme will provide legal aid and in partnership with non-governmental organizations will upscale successful programmes for orphans, street children, seasonal migrants, transgender, victims of abuse, bonded labour and daily wage workers.

The programme will include building of Ehsaas homes for 10,000 orphans, shelter homes in several major cities and housing scheme for the poor including landless farmers through interest free loans.

She informed that a new community and nutrition initiative will be undertaken to address stunting in children. Dr Sania said a need based system will be introduced in the National Finance Commission Award to improve the allocation formula instead of keeping it limited to the factor of population.

 

Originally published on The News On April 22, 2019

Govt abolishes Statistics Division

pbsISLAMABAD (Shahbaz Rana /Express Tribune) :The government has abolished the Statistics Division, transferred the function of holding population census and given administrative control of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to the Ministry of Planning and Development.

The decision to place the PBS under the Ministry of Planning has been taken hardly a month before the National Accounts Committee (NAC) meeting that will approve next year’s provisional economic growth figures. Earlier, the statistics division secretary used to chair the NAC meeting that the planning secretary will now chair.

The PBS is also responsible for calculating the inflation reading – a responsibility that will now be undertaken under the supervision of the minister for planning, development and reform. The government has already expressed its displeasure over the poor state of affairs of the PBS.

The Statistics Division may be renamed Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division and may be made part of the Cabinet Secretariat, according to the Cabinet Division. All functions of the Statistics Division have also been transferred to the Planning, Development and Reform Division.

The decision to abolish the Statistics Division has been taken on the recommendation of the institutional reforms task force, headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Husain.

The Planning Division will now be responsible for preparation of an overall integrated plan for development and improvement of statistics in Pakistan. It will also prepare the annual programme in accordance with the agreed priorities and will assign responsibilities for its execution.

The Planning Division has also been tasked with formulating a policy regarding general statistics and adapting the statistical system of Pakistan to the policy.

The Planning Division will coordinate with the provincial and federal governments as well as international organisations on statistical matters bearing directly or indirectly the responsibility on issues of trade, industry, prices, expenditures, input-output accounts, flow of funds and balance of payments.

The planning ministry will also be the executing agency for the Industrial Statistics Act and General Statistics Reorganisation Act 2011. It will also hold agriculture census, population census, national livestock census and collect and maintain population demographics and vital health statistics.

The compilation of labour, manpower and employment statistics will also be the responsibility of the planning ministry. The function of periodic assessment, review and analysis of manpower resources and requirements has been assigned to the planning ministry despite it being the job of human resources development and overseas Pakistanis ministry.

The government has also carved out the Benazir Income Support Programme from the Ministry of Finance and placed it under the newly established Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division. Similarly, the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund has also been transferred to the newly created division by taking it from the finance ministry.

Social-sector related subjects have been placed under the newly created division aimed at bringing all such departments and organisations under one roof. The federal cabinet has already approved the creation of Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said the new division would be headed by Dr Sania Nishtar and it would coordinate functions of different organisations under the newly launched Ehsas programme.

Statistics Secretary Shaista Sohail has been made secretary of the Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division.

The administrative control of Pakistan Baitul Mal has been transferred to the Social Protection Division. Also, the Trust for Voluntary Organisation has also been transferred from the Economic Affairs Division to the Social Protection Division.

Originally published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2019.

PM launches Rs 80 b poverty alleviation programme ‘Ehsas’ to protect vulnerable segments

ISLAMABAD, Mar 27 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday launched a Rs 80 billion comprehensive poverty alleviation programme “Ehsas” aimed at helping the downtrodden and vulnerable segments of the society, including the poor, orphans, widows, homeless, disabled, undernourished, jobless etc.

Unveiling the salient features the poverty alleviation programme here, he said the government would allocate an additional amount of Rs 80 billion in the country’s social protection spending in backward areas from the current year, which would be raised to Rs 120 billion in 2021.

The Prime Minister also announced the establishment a new Ministry of Social Protection/Poverty Alleviation to address the current fragmentation. Various institutions likes the BISP, PBM, Zakat, PPAF etc would be working under that ministry, which would develop a one-window operation for social protection of the poor and to facilitate citizens, he added.

He said the government would introduce a new constitutional amendment to move Article 38(d) from the “Principles of Policy” section into the “Fundamental Rights” section.

The change would make provision of food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief for the citizens, who could not earn a livelihood due to infirmity, sickness or unemployment, a state responsibility, the Prime Minister said and described it first step towards the creation of a welfare state. Prime Minister Imran Khan while realizing that 25% to 40% of people in Pakistan were suffering from poverty, the government wanted targeted subsidies, adding, the government would have a new survey of poverty to be completed by December this year.

He said the government was also launching a new program “Kafalat” under the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), adding, the new program would have fives pillars.

The prime minister said under the new program which was aimed at economic empowerment of women, 5.7 million women would be given savings accounts under the “one woman one bank account plan”.
He said 500 BISP and Pakistan Bait ul Mal (PBM) offices would be transformed into digital hubs where the government’s IT, technology and innovation resources would be pooled.

The government’s digital resources, such as access to the labor information system, online curricula, and one window social protection interface would be accessible and create opportunities for BISP families to graduate out of poverty, he added.

The prime minister said the government would not just give money to the poor but link it with health, and nutrition-related assistance, which would help address stunting of children.

He said, under Kifalat, the government would raise the current cash transfer of Rs5,000 to Rs5,500.

He said the government was launching a precision safety net, called “Tahafaz” to protect individuals from catastrophic risks—a transparent and trackable digital system of cash transfers through which the government would give legal aid, education grants and health assistance to those without Insaf card entitlements.

He said the government also had plans to graduate BISP beneficiaries out of poverty for the most backward districts, adding, a program for asset transfers worth Rs5 billion in five districts had additionally been launched through Kifalat.

The prime minister said the government would use the social mobilization skills of the rural support programs and their network of community organizations for this purpose.

In Tahafaz, he said, the government would provide assistance to poor widows who had no source of income and no earning children.

To help the most marginalized segments of the society, he said, his government would partner with organizations that support street children, seasonal migrants, transgender, victims of child and bonded labor and daily wage workers who do not find daily work.

He said, in order to provide a secure future for the orphans, the PBM would expand its network of Ehsas homes for children to provide decent living, food, education and health facilities to 10,000 children in four years.

The prime minister said the government would also help upscale reputed private institutions for orphans, so that the government could fulfill its objectives of serving the poor.

He said the government had already committed to launching the Insaf Insurance Card in 38 districts for 3.3 million people over a four-year period and had committed Rs33 billion for this.

In addition, he said, through “Tahafaz” the government would cater to additional needs of those requiring financial access to treatment.

The government would make sure every poor and deserving person approaching public hospitals had access to treatment and surgery, he added. Prime Minister Imran Khan said as the stunted growth was linked with malnutrition and poor sanitation, he had directed that de-worming drugs, iron folic acid and micro nutrient supplements of quality should be made available at all government hospitals and BHUs (Basic Health Units). Awareness about breast-feeding should also be created in rural areas, he added.

He referred to a survey and tests of unpacked milk conducted in a city and said it showed 75% adulteration. The government would launch a pilot programme to ensure the availability of pure milk initially in Islamabad and Lahore, he added.

The Prime Minister said with an aim to help poor village women to earn their livelihood, the government would provide them with buffaloes, cows, goats and hens. It was a worldwide tried and test method of poverty alleviation, he added.

He said asset transfer of goats could be both income-generating as well as nutrition boosting.

Similarly, he said a kitchen gardening initiative would also be introduced where subsidized certified seed and seedlings would be promoted both through the entrepreneurial model as well as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).

The Prime Minister besides urging the edible oil companies to give seed packets along with oil cans, also directed the Utility Stores to do likewise, as such small things used to make difference.

He regretted that during the last ten years of democracy the country’s debt swelled to Rs 30,000 billion from Rs 6,000 billion. Rs 6 billion was spent per day as interest of those loans, he added.The Prime Minister said the government was adopting a new policy of placing placards outside of each BHU and hospital mentioning the amount allocated and the staff meant to be present to increase transparency.

He said in the Kifalat programme, the government was designing a conditional cash transfer for health and education for six million women and families so that they could have access to nutrition assistance.

The Prime Minister said he was establishing a high level multi-sectoral nutrition coordinating body within his office. It would also include the private sector to ensure food fortification and supplementation, he added.

He said the government was launching a programme under which wheelchairs, tripod / quadripod sticks, and crutches would be provided to the Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

In addition, the government would partner with the civil society and expert organizations to develop 20 centers for the physically challenged in under-privileged districts, he added.

The Prime Minister said the government was also taking steps to look after the welfare of the workers abroad, who come from low income groups and go abroad to provide basic needs for their families.

He said the government was increasing the role and number of Community Welfare Attaches, and Protectors of Emigration Office (PoEs), besides enhanced duration of briefing and training sessions prior to departure for intended migrant workers arranged by the Protector of Emigrants / Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis.

The Prime Minister said he had instructed all PoEs to create one window for all types of requirements and make workers aware about their entitlements.

He referred to a study which showed that unskilled workers hardly recover their cost of migration in three to four years and said the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis had been instructed to negotiate with foreign governments to extend the duration of the first contract agreement from one year to at least three years.

The Prime Minister said the government had decided that migrant unskilled workers, earning less than a given income and who had not visited home for more than seven years, would be provided subsidy on air tickets.

He said the government would create panahgahs (shelter homes) in several major cities of the country.

The Prime Minister said the government’s housing scheme would center on facilitating provision of homes to the poor (including landless farmers), through interest free loans. The government had allocated Rs 4.5 billion for the purpose.

He also announced increase in the monthly labour pension through EOBI (Employees Old Age Benefit Institution) from Rs 5,250 to 6,500. The government had instructed that biometric payments should be used for all labour pensioners from next year to counter pilferage.

The Prime Minister said the Pakistan Bait ul Mal would establish five great Ehsas homes (old people’s homes) this year, and the number would be raised by the passage of time.

He said since education was a basic human right under Article 25A of the Constitution, an awareness drive would be aimed at Article 25-A so that the poor become aware of their right.

The Prime Minister said with focus on federal areas and lagging districts of provinces, where only private schools existed, the government would provide either pre-paid education vouchers to children or had managed contracts with the private schools.

Being aware of the special problem of inability to reach children where there were dispersed populations, the government would make e-learning content freely available online and use chat bots in local languages for displaced populations, he added.

He said the government would allocate Rs 3 billion per annum for scholarships in the higher education particularly in backward areas.

The Prime Minister also announced a policy of corporate farming to help farmers with fragmented and small land holdings, adding, the government would provide market stimulus for livestock and fisheries in arid zones to create livelihood opportunities for small farmers.

He said the microfinance sector had grown substantially over the past 20 years. There were now more than 40 microfinance institutions in Pakistan, which disburse more than Rs. 400 billion annually, and help the poor graduate out of poverty.

Given that this sector is now well regulated, his government will work on facilitating the expansion of microfinance services to reach remote and un-served areas, he added.

The Prime Minister said as technical education was important because youth with skills had a much better chance of getting a productive job and also for self-employment, the government would include skills training in school curricula; from the 8th class.

The age of enrollment in technical training was also being decreased from 18 to 15 so that after matriculation, skills training can be started immediately, he added.

The Prime Minister said to facilitate remittances, the government was introducing a slab for remitters of upto US$ 100 with half of the existing fee.

He said as the entire agenda was heavily skewed towards the uplift of poor women, more than 50% of the education vouchers and scholarships would be for women.

The Prime Minister referred to the government’s five million housing programme and said the government would ensure that women have joint ownership of houses.

He said all the ministries would ensure that every PC-1 had impact on poverty and equality.

The Prime Minister said the government would introduce the new local government system in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Referring to the poor living in Katchi Abadis, he announced that high-rise buildings would be constructed and the poor families living in those areas would be given flats with ownership rights.

Earlier, Chairperson Poverty Alleviation Coordination Council Dr Sania Nishtar , in her welcome remarks, highlighted the aims and objectives of the poverty alleviation programme ‘Ehsas’.

Courtesy: APP

BISP to bring in eight million more beneficiaries

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Islamabad: Benazir Income Support programme (BISP) intends to bring in 8 million beneficiaries to its fold after update of the National Socio Economic Registry (NSER).

This was shared in a briefing to a delegation of International Monetary Fund (IMF) that visited BISP headquarters on Thursday as part of their on-going visit to Pakistan to assess the economic and financial challenges faced by the country.

Talking to the delegation, BISP Chairperson Dr. Sania Nishtar said that she foresees the growth of Data Engine of BISP through NSER in the years to come as the sole source of information sharing to facilitate the national social protection work in the country on a massive scale.

She said that her role is to address the issues of governance and policy matters related to the board meetings. She said, the organisation has zero tolerance for corruption and her job is to make the organisation efficient and transparent.

The IMF delegation was led by Advisor and Team Leader Harald Finger and Deputy Director Middle East and Central Asia Taline Koranchilian whereas Chairperson BISP Dr Sania Nishtar and Secretary BISP Omar Hamid Khan BISP along with senior management represented the BISP.

Secretary, BISP, Omar Hamid Khan, briefed the delegation on various initiatives, programmes and activities of BISP as well as its national and international partnerships. BISP is contributing towards women empowerment by supporting 5.7 Million marginalised women of this country, through Cash Transfer programme (both conditional and unconditional transfers).

He said that BISP strongly believes in imparting International excellence, utilization of modern technology and implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for the marginalized population, in line with international standards.

Secretary informed the delegation that BISP has state-of-the-art social researcher’s team from Harvard, MIT and LSE to develop Social Protection models. They were also apprised of the public private partnerships of BISP which have contributed towards innovative approaches of tackling poverty and providing opportunities to vulnerable women to seek socio-economic empowerment. It was also conveyed to the IMF team that 2.4 million children have been enrolled in schools under the Waseela-e-Taleem programme.

He said that on average, in Pakistan, one out of every three children is suffering from stunted growth. The case in Sindh and Southern Punjab is even worse. There are 2.5 million women affected due to this every year. The rate is all time staggering high and alarming, and demands immediate measures to respond. BISP has formulated the strategy to address the looming issue of stunted growth and related health problems.

Adviser and Team Leader IMF Harald Finger appreciated the BISP performance and contribution towards the national social protection and helping the vulnerable to fight poverty while addressing the issue of malnutrition and stunted growth. He pointed out the overall economic challenges faced by the country and said that social protection is one of the key areas to be focused. He added that BISP has impressive engagement working model to address the wider canvas of social protection.

Seniors officers of BISP also briefed the delegation about the broad contours of their programmes related to NSER, Complementary initiatives and Cash Transfers.

 

Courtesy: The News

 

NSER door-to-door data collection launched

NSERThe National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) has launched the country-wide ‘Qaumi Khushali Survey’ (National Prosperity Survey) from Malikwal in Mandi Bahauddin in the Punjab to update door-to-door data on the socio-economic conditions of masses at grass roots level all over the country.

The last such survey was held in 2010-11. As per approval of the Management/ Government of Pakistan, the NSER has decided to launch a country-wide door-to-door survey to collect basic data for analyzing and chalking out a comprehensive national plan, which will be executed by the federal as well as provincial governments, to overcome the poverty related issue and improve the lives of the vulnerable segment of society.

The NSER will move to other districts in the Punjab as well as in the other provinces as part of strategy from next week for which the field staff is undergoing trainings and being equipped with the necessary instruments to ensure the maximum level of accuracy and efficiency.

The NSER has engaged professional organizations through a transparent and competitive process of hiring in line with the Government’s rules & regulations. A separate operation review firm has been hired for third party monitoring.

The NSER also arranged similar trainings for all stakeholders, which were completed within the month of October. Now the work on ground has started with the field teams having started collecting data from the Malikwal tehsil in Mandi Bahauddin district in the Punjab and will soon move into other districts across Pakistan.

 

Courtesy: BISP

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