BISP Grants Fail to Provide Social Protection to the Poorest Households, a study

95% of the BISP cash grant beneficiary households did not find BISP cash grants helpful in meeting their expenditures. Almost 50% beneficiaries claim they have to spend money to get the cash grant. Instead of raising their living standards, the cash grants are increasing dependency on government funds. These findings are result of a survey based study titled “Conditional Cash Transfers: Safety Net or Welfare Trap?”, by Fizza Behzad launched by Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME) – an economic policy think tank.

According to the survey, Benazir Income Support Programme is unable to provide social protection to its beneficiaries. The study aims at reviewing the design of BISP, its effect on the private charity, attitudes of programme beneficiaries, focusing on collecting information regarding disbursements, procedural problems, and needs fulfilment and it examined the impact on the household standard of living. For this purpose a survey was conducted among 1,000 beneficiaries of BISP from Matta district (Malakand), Mirpur and Neelam Valley districts (Azad Jammu & Kashmir).

Through this study, it is shown that despite the apparently noble intentions of providing social protection to the poor, the conditional cash transfers (through Benazir Income Support Programme) can serve the exact opposite: by making the poor dependent on continued transfers, and hence, rendering them more vulnerable.

PRIME report recommends that to achieve poverty alleviation, the programme requires restructuring towards long-term and permanent solutions such as replacing cash grants with programmes through which human capital is enhanced like vocational training’s and educational programmes.

Mr Ali Salman, Executive Director (PRIME Institute) said that the government has announced Rs 118 Billion for social protection in the present budget which will only serve the political purpose through doling out welfare instead of social protection. Instead of reaching out selected households through cash grants, government can help raise their living standards by investing in the quality and access to basic education through private sector in backward districts of Pakistan.

This report has been published with support from the Atlas Network.

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