Sania briefs WB delegation on contribution of poverty-eradication programme ‘Ehsas’

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Zubair Qureshi

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Dr Sania Nishtar on Friday briefed a delegation of the World Bank (WB) about the PTI-government’s Ehsas programme and its positive contribution in addressing poverty and inequality in Pakistan
While talking to David Malpass, President of the World Bank delegation who called on her along with his delegation at the BISP Headquarters, Sania Nishtar informed him on the government’s multisectoral Ehsaas Programme and stated that despite limited fiscal space, social protection has been placed high on the government’s agenda and significantly increased resources have been allocated for social protection.
She said that fragmented social protection programs are being integrated at one platform to avoid duplication. Sania also informed Malpass about on new payment model of Kifalat programme, which will promote financial inclusion of women through one woman one bank account. During the briefing, Mr. Malpass was also apprised on the governance reforms undertaken at BISP to bring transparency and efficiency in operations. Dr. Sania Nishtar also described the mother and child health and nutrition initiative of BISP, recently approved by the BISP Board. She said that the intervention would be piloted in eight districts during the current fiscal year. . Mr. Malpass expressed keen interest in the initiative and appreciated that government of Pakistan is taking steps to address the stunting and wasting problems of the poorest section of the society.
David Malpass also attended an interactive session with BISP beneficiaries who, as a part of BISP’s collaboration efforts with the private sector had improved their livelihood potential and had started their small businesses. Mr. Malpass heard the stories of the beneficiaries and asked them questions about the use they made of the cash transfers from the government and the ways in which they embarked on the journey of self reliance. He noted with great interest that these poor women spend their quarterly stipend primarily on food and education needs of their children. He also asked the beneficiaries about their access to banking services and whether they used their stipends for savings or to meet their immediate expenditure needs. Dr. Sania Nishtar explained that under Ehsaas, one of the main themes is to encourage collaboration with the private sector and to create synergies in the public and private efforts to bring people out of the vicious cycle of poverty. She explained that these beneficiaries were from among the beneficiaries identified by BISP and then helped by private sector partners to establish their small businesses.
He was briefed that education CCT was successfully operational in 50 districts across the country and BISP was operationally ready to upscale it in 50 more districts. The President was apprised that educational stipend for girls has been enhanced to PKR 1000/ – which is paid on a quarterly basis.