The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Monday approved a $200 million loan as additional financing to support the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
A press statement issued by the Manila-based lending agency noted that an ADB-financed Social Protection Development Project, approved in 2013, had enabled the enrollment of over 855,000 beneficiaries of the BISP.
“The additional financing would continue to support cash transfers as well as help BISP implement institutional strengthening measures,” said ADB Central and West Asia Director (Public Management) Tariq Niazi. “Social protection programmes like the BISP are crucial to ensure that the poorest segments of the population do not go further into poverty, especially at a time when the country is facing difficult macroeconomic challenges.”
He said that the ADB was committed to helping the Pakistan government implement alternative modalities for social protection and poverty reduction such as asset transfer programs that promote improved human capital and reduce inter-generational poverty.
ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang said the additional financing would support further institutional strengthening and improvements in financial management and controls in BISP.
“A policy research unit will also be established within BISP to help monitor and improve the performance of ongoing programmes and design new cost-effective and evidence-based initiatives such as poverty graduation programs and conditional cash transfers for health and nutrition in line with global best practices,” he added.
Launched in 2008, BISP is a cash transfer poverty reduction program which comes under the umbrella of ‘Ehsaas Programme’ which was launched by PM Imran in March this year with the objectives of reducing inequality, investing in human resource, and to lift lagging districts.
Earlier, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to provide Pakistan with an amount of $200 million for the implementation of the ‘Ehsaas Programme’ in the country next year.
Pakistan and the Gates Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) during a meeting in New York supporting the government’s initiative in alleviating poverty from the country.