ISLAMABAD: As Ehsaas — an umbrella of 20 programmes of social safety and welfare — has completed a fresh poverty survey for 2021 within the country, the amount of Benazir Income Support Programme beneficiaries has increased to eight .2 million.
The first BISP survey that was completed in 2011 had 23 variables to determine the deserving people but the fresh one under its new name Ehsaas Kafalat Programme (EKP) has 43 variables covering wider range of aspects associated with the less privileged segments of society.
According to the 2011 survey, there have been 4.8m people registered with the BISP additionally to those 800,000 beneficiaries including government employees whose names were faraway from the list in December 2019 for being “ineligible”.
As per the 2021 data supported the fresh survey, 3.4m people are added to the list of beneficiaries.
Speaking to Dawn on Sunday, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on welfare and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said: “We have completed the first-ever digital survey/data of Ehsaas Kafalat (BISP) after a two-year hectic countrywide exercise during which many trained volunteers amid Ehsaas programme’s staff having laptops in their hands went door to door to accomplish the work .”
Dr Nishtar said the last BISP survey had been conducted through some non-governmental organisations, but this point Ehsaas staff themselves carried it out with the assistance of trained volunteers mostly comprising teachers. “It is that the first-ever digital poverty survey within the country that 20,000 laptops were purchased for survey teams. Once the survey of a selected area was completed, these laptops were sent to other places for an equivalent purpose,” she said, adding that the survey was verified by a third-party audit.
She disclosed that after conducting the survey, her ministry was establishing facilitation desks altogether districts in order that those omitted during the survey for genuine reasons could get themselves registered. “So far we’ve established 350 desks. it had been our decide to set these desks altogether districts after Ashura,” she added.
Dr Nishtar said the survey would convince be the backbone for the supply of monetary assistance under 20 different schemes of the government’s ambitious Ehsaas programme to the deserving people whose eligibility was verified under a mechanism.
With a rise within the number of beneficiaries, the govt also enhanced the fund for the programme to Rs250 billion. “It was Rs116bn in 2018-19, Rs196bn in 2019-20 and Rs250bn at the present ,” she said.
The PM’s aide said those added to the list of beneficiaries were eligible for various programmes like Ehsaas Waseela-i-Taleem, Ehsaas Kafalat, Ehsaas Amdan, Ehsaas Nashonuma, Ehsaas interest-free loans, Ehsaas Langar, Ehsaas scholarship, Ehsaas emergency cash, Ehsaas Covid-19 fund, Ehsaas Koi Bhooka Na Soye, Ehsaas One-Window, Ehsaas Agriculture Loans, Mazdoor Ka Ehsaas, and Rehriban schemes.
Under the scholarship programme, she explained, female students got more share as they got Rs2,000 stipend per month while boys received Rs1,500. She said 1.3m beneficiaries had already been registered for the interest-free loans package.
Similarly, she said, 31 Langar Khanas (free meal stalls) under Ehsaas Langar had been established. They were being run with the help of Saylani Welfare Trust, she added. She said targeted subsidy was also being given to deserving people altogether the 4,000 outlets of the utility stores corporation across the country through their biometric. “This time we also are expanding the programme to incorporate bourgeoisie of the society,” she added.
Explaining the Rehriban programme, the PM’s aide said 20 carts were provided to the deserving persons in Islamabad as a pilot program , which might be replicated in other parts of the country.
Explaining the procedure of knowledge collection for digital poverty survey, Dr Nishtar said the surveyors visited residences and after collecting the relevant data transferred it to the Ehsaas headquarters, which then rechecked the small print before a third-party audit to make sure transparency and take away errors.
Two years ago, she said, her ministry had removed over 800,000 fake and ineligible beneficiaries from BISP data including 140,000 officialdom in straightness . However, the audit department asked why money given to the officials had not been recovered, she said before explaining that it had been the responsibility of other departments like the Federal Investigation Agency to try to to so.