–Documents reveal 820,165 excluded beneficiaries were living affluently as over 0.3m had travelled abroad
ISLAMABAD: 820,165 beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), who were removed from the database recently, were living an affluent lifestyle and were using the funds meant for the poor to meet their luxury needs.
Documents revealed that 153,302 beneficiaries had travelled abroad once while 10,475 beneficiaries had travelled abroad on multiple occasions. Similarly, the spouses of 195,364 beneficiaries had also travelled abroad once while the spouses of 166,319 beneficiaries had undertaken foreign trips more than once.
692 beneficiaries had one or more vehicles registered under their names while the spouses of 43,746 beneficiaries had one or more vehicles registered under their names.
The average telephone bill of 24,564 beneficiaries was more than Rs1,000 while the same was also true for the spouses of 115,567 beneficiaries.
666 beneficiaries had applied for passport through executive centres whereas the spouses of 580 beneficiaries had done the same. Moreover, three of more family members of 36,970 beneficiaries of the poverty alleviation programme had applied for Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC) through executive centres.
Documents also revealed that 14,730 beneficiaries were employees of Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Post and BISP itself. Similarly, the spouses of 127,826 beneficiaries were employees of the same.
A day earlier, the federal cabinet had approved Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division’s proposal for excluding 820,165 beneficiaries from the database.
The decision was taken on a recommendation forwarded by the division, taken up at the weekly federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Pegged as the largest social safety programme, BISP provides cash transfers to about 5.1 million poor families across the country. It used the proxy means test (PMT) methodology to ascertain the eligibility of the beneficiaries.
In its recommendation, the division had said that a 2010-11 survey on socio-economic indicators for 27 million households across Pakistan established a cut-off poverty score at 16.17 to make ever-married women as BISP beneficiaries. “The demographic and socio-economic status, as well as the composition of households, change with time. Over time some of these beneficiary households have become relatively better-off,” the letter had stated.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar, in a tweet, thanked the cabinet for approving the proposal. “I wish to thank the Cabinet for approving my proposal: exiting 820,165 @bisp_pakistan beneficiaries. Using forensic data analysis, we found they were ineligible for support based on the crtieria below. This translates into saving of PKR 16 billion for the government annually,” she said.
It is pertinent to mention here that around 5.4 million beneficiaries have been included in the BISP database since July 2008.