An international conference on National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) was held today at BISP headquarter to share successes, experiences and evolution of NSER. The day long mega event featured presentations on different phases of NSER since 2008 and before, evolution of NSER from static to dynamic registry in Pakistan, sharing of national and international experiences, targeting and selection mechanism, Management Information (MIS). The conference also highlighted models of data sharing, partnerships on usage of NSER with different public and private institutions for targeted subsidies, employment generation, skill development, disaster management and welfare planning.
The conference was attended by parliamentarians, diplomats, development partners, academicians, researchers, social activists, bureaucrats, national and international experts and a large number of students from NUST, NUML, COMSATS, Quaid-e-Azam University and other institutions.
The first of the four sessions of the conference was inaugurated by Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and the last session was concluded by Advisor to PM, Mr. Sartaj Aziz. Second and third sessions were chaired by Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali and National Security Advisor, Gen. Nasir Janjua respectively.
In his inaugural address, the Speaker appreciated the targeting methodology of BISP, which allowed the diversion of funds to the real needy and poor, irrespective of their political, religious or any other affiliations. He added that it was heartening to know that BISP was now moving towards another phase of targeting, with improved design and dynamic approach towards targeting keeping in view the transient nature of poverty. He also assured his full support to BISP management in its operations and initiatives on behalf of the Government.
During his concluding address, Mr. Sartaj Aziz said that huge budget of BISP reflects the present government’s commitment to social protection in the country. Congratulating the Chairperson BISP for taking the initiative of updating the NSER, he added that NSER not only provided accurate and transparent information on potential beneficiaries for social assistance programs, but also allowed linkages among multiple programs for which the potential beneficiaries could be eligible.
Minister of State and Chairperson BISP MNA Marvi Memon said that NSER, a national asset bigger than BISP, is being shared with all the public and private sector organizations for the poverty reduction and development programs. Currently at number five in the world, BISP, under the PML (N) Government, commits to become number one in the field of targeting.
Country Director DFID, Ms. Joanna Reed while addressing at the inaugural session stated that UK government supports BISP because it takes the aid to the ones who need it the most. She mentioned that UK watchdog Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) in its recent report had appreciated the coverage of BISP and added that the shifting of payments to Biometric Verification System (BVS) and NSER update would make BISP world leader striving for better lives.
Country Director World Bank, Mr. Illango Machapattu stated that BISP is recognized internationally as a successful social safety net program. Many countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Afghanistan and others have learned from BISP and World Bank looks forward towards expansion of pro-poor and financial inclusion agenda of BISP.
Briefing on the NSER update through resurvey, DG BISP Dr. Tahir Noor stated that door to door survey in 12 pilot districts would be completed by August 2017 followed by national roll out in September 2017 and it would be completed by early 2018. Desk registration in Naseerabad, Sukkar, Haripur and Bahawalpur had shown tremendous results. This is the third phase of NSER update after 2010-11 survey and registration through parliamentarians in 2008/09.
It was informed that to register the number one NSER in the world, Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) approach has been adopted instead of Paper Assisted Personal Interviewing (PAPI). The registration application has in built checks and controls capable of identifying errors. Blue tooth based synchronization of the enumerators and supervisors, is a quality control feature that will ensure error free registration. In order to ensure complete coverage of the population, computer based enlisting with the help of Google maps would also be utilized. The addition of new questions in questionnaire related to rural/urban distribution, agro climatic zones, transgender, chronic diseases, access to justice, vocational training will enhance the quality of data.
The second session titled “Towards Creating the World’s Best NSER” discussed the various phases of NSER development, evolution of BISP MIS and international experience towards dynamic NSER for Pakistan. The session highlighted the importance of dynamic registry capable of reflecting the demographic changes with the passage of time.
Keynote speaker of the second session, Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali stated that with all the technological expertise and equal backing from all political parties, BISP had excelled to become a model social safety net. She complimented Chairperson Marvi Memon for fine tuning and broadening the largest women empowerment programme in Pakistan.
During the third and fourth sessions of the conference current models of data sharing between BISP and different organizations and linkages with research institutions were discussed. BISP data is being utilized by more than 40 public and private sector organizations.
CEO PM Health Insurance Scheme Dr. Hashim Popalzai, COO Punjab SPA Tahir Raza Hamdani (Punjab Khidmat Card), Secretary Health KPK Abid Majeed (KPK Insaaf Card), CEO Green Star Social Marketing Dr. S. A. Rab, , CD Alif Ailan Musharraf Zaidi, , Executive Director HEC Dr. Arshad Ali, CEO PPAF Qazi Azmat Isa, PNCA Chief Jamal Shah, Member NDMA Mr Ahmed Kamal, CD Population council Dr Zeba Sattar, Chairman Akhuwat Dr Amjad Saqib shared their success stories that how BISP data enabled them to launch pro-poor programmes across the country. They stated that consolidated data is a pre-requisite for effective policy making and emphasized that BISP data has a huge potential to be used for targeted subsidies and designing welfare programmes. All the speakers were of the view that updated NSER would further deepen the cooperation between BISP and their organizations for the uplift of the poor.
Gen. Nasir Janjua, during his address, said that fault lines created by poverty are exploited by anti-state elements. Poverty stricken population easily falls prey to the devastating agenda of extremist elements. In this backdrop, the role of BISP is monumental not only in saving the poorest of the poor from hunger but also keeping them away from extremism and terrorism.