Murree—A two-day workshop hosted by the World Bank opened at Bhurban on Monday to discuss the way forward for the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), the largest social safety programme in Pakistan. As BISP works to further improve and deepen the application of the national safety net system for the development of human capital amongst the poor and improving their access to complementary services, the workshop brings together federal and provincial stakeholders, academia, civil society, development partners and international experts in social protection to deliberate on the key themes imperative for strengthening the safety net system.
In her opening remarks, the Minister of State and Chairperson BISP Marvi Memon reinforced that BISP continues to serve the poor by bringing dignity, empowerment and meaning to their lives through the transparent and efficient delivery of cash transfers to the poor. She shared the vision of the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar of transforming BISP into the best social safety net program in the world.
Marvi stressed the need to understand the program from the perspective of the poor beneficiaries and keep them at the center of the debate in the workshop as this is the essence of the program and the agenda of the Government. She also reiterated how the World Bank support is now evolving into a Program for Results which is instrumental for supporting the government led program. This includes: updating the National Socio-economic Registry (NSER) into a dynamic registry through re-survey to harmonize pro-poor initiatives in the country, expanding the Waseela-e-Taleem – the Co-responsibility Cash Transfer program through mutually conducive federal-provincial partnerships, modernizing the delivery of payments to the poor and helping BISP to link its beneficiaries to complementary pro-poor programs being delivered by other partners for exiting out of poverty.
Iftikhar Malik, Senior Social Protection Specialist, World Bank deliberated on how the World Bank’s support has evolved since 2009 to develop the national Social Safety Net System in Pakistan and reiterated continued commitment to this end through the new four year program being designed with inputs from all stakeholders. Dr. Tahir Noor, Director General, Cash Transfers discussed the progress of BISP, sharing lessons and the current vision for advancement. Secretary BISP Saleem Ranjha also shared his vision for BISP.