ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday launched the Rs 34 billion Benazir Income Support Programme for the poor and vulnerable segments of society. Under the scheme, families, having income less than Rs 6000 per month would be paid Rs. 2000, every two months under this programme. “This is the first program in the country that will directly benefit the oppressed sections of the society directly,” President Asif Ali Zardari told a gathering here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.
President Zardari said the welfare of women was a priority of the government and it was with this objective that the scheme has been initiated.
“I am pleased to launch the scheme on the name of great leader Benazir Bhutto Shaheed,” President Zardari said. He said the scheme was a step towards empowerment of the women and ameliorating the sufferings of the poorest of the poor.“I wish Mohtarma was alive today to have launched the program with her own hands,” he said.
The program to benefit as many as 3 million people will be implemented with complete transparency and by rising above political affiliations, the President said. He said the recommendations of the parliamentarians will be kept in consideration in identifying the vulnerable sections of the society.
The President said the government has also directed NADRA to place all information about the financial transactions on its website so that the people may verify that the money is being given to the real deserving, with complete openness.
The President termed the scheme that will cover around 14 per cent of the population in the low income group across the country; including FATA, Northern Areas and Azad Jammu Kashmir. He said special focus of the scheme will be on the remote areas of Balochistan, Chitral, North and South Waziristan, Kohistan and Tharparkar.
The President handed over cheques to the deserving families. Prime Minsiter Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Chairman Senate and parliamentarians attended the event. Minister for IT and Kashmir Affairs Qamar Zaman Kaira, who is also looking after the BISP said the Benazir Income Support Program will be the largest direct cash grant scheme in country’s history and all members of Parliament, irrespective of party affiliation will be provided equal opportunities to recommend deserving families.
A unique feature of the scheme is that the payment will be made directly to the female head of the family and the amount will help in providing funds for around 25 days of wheat flour for the family. He said the Benazir Income Support Programme is the third largest allocation in the current budget and constitutes 0.3 percent of GDP. For families earning Rs. 5000 per month, the Rs. 1000 payout will amount to a 20 percent increase in their current purchasing power.
The funds would be disbursed through Pakistan Post and will be delivered by postal Money Order at the recipient address, so that they do not have to incur any cost or trouble in obtaining the amount. He said under the scheme each Parliamentarian will be allocated 8,000 forms which would be distributed by MNA’s and Senators in their respective constituencies. The forms would be verified by the Union Councillor as well as the area MNA.
The parliamentarians will collect the completed forms and mail these to NADRA in pre-addressed envelopes provided by BISP.-APP