This report provides an analysis and evaluation of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), a major social safety net programme initiated in 2008 in Pakistan. The worldwide public opinion has assumed that such programmes are successful at reducing inequality and poverty.
However, the effects of social safety nets tend to differ across country to country and region to region therefore a detailed study is in order to discern the success of the programme.
Safety net interventions in Pakistan have suffered from a conspicuous lack of evidence based policy making. Numerous evaluations of the targeting process of programmes have identified design and implementation weaknesses. According to World Development Indicators (WDI) 2013, 60 per cent of the population in Pakistan lives below poverty line corresponding to $2 or Rs. 210/-1 per day so social protection as an area of government intervention has achieved enhanced budgetary priority in Pakistan recently with the advent of programme like BISP.
The aim of this report was to review the design of BISP, its effect on the private charity, attitudes of programme beneficiaries, focusing on collecting information regarding disbursements, procedural problems, and needs fulfillment and it examined the impact on the household standard of living. A survey was conducted among 1,000 beneficiaries of BISP from Malakand and Azad Jammu & Kashmir.
The results indicate that there are inefficiencies and irregularities in disbursement procedures. The amount of cash grant is in-sufficient to fulfill expenditure needs of the beneficiary families at large and has no impact on their living standards rather it has created a very high dependency of the beneficiary families on the cash grants. People do not conceive cash grants as their right instead they regard it as a help from government. Even if they consider it as a help it is a discouraging fact that the cash grant are unable to motivate people for work. While private charity continued to prevail along with BISP cash grants.
It is recommended 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 and educational programmes.