Overview

The Government of Pakistan launched the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) – the National Cash Transfer Programme (NCTP) – in July 2008, as the premier safety net institution in Pakistan. BISP originally came into being in the face of rapid food price inflation, which saw food, grain and fuel prices reaching a 30-year highest in 2008 and the global economic downturn in 2009 which further decreased the welfare of already vulnerable households. The Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), a targeted unconditional cash transfer program in Pakistan was implemented by focusing on poor women with an immediate objective of consumption smoothing and cushioning the negative effects of slow economic growth.

According to World Bank (2015) social safety net programs help reduce the poverty gap by 15% around the world. In this backdrop, the programme was designed with the core objective of consumption smoothening for the poor families and providing them cushion against negative economic shocks which include global financial crisis, and rising food prices.  Its long term objectives include meeting the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate extreme and chronic poverty and empowerment of women.

The Programme established through an Act of Parliament, BISP works under the executive patronage of Prime Minister while the President of Pakistan being its Chief Patron.

Goals and objective of Programme are as follows :

  1. Enhance financial capacity of poor people and their dependent family members.
  2. Formulate and implement comprehensive policies and targeted programmes for the uplift of underprivileged and vulnerable people.
  3. Reduce poverty and promote equitable distribution of wealth especially for the low income groups.

 

To achieve the supplementary objective of women empowerment, BISP provides support exclusively through women. The beneficiaries belong to the most under-privileged, excluded, marginalized and vulnerable sections of society, living abject poverty. Economic deprivation, regardless of political affinity, racial identity, geographical location and religious beliefs, is the sole criterion for selection BISP beneficiaries.

BISP has a nationwide presence with headquarters in Federal Capital Islamabad and 6 regional offices at provincial capitals, AJK and GB. There are 33 divisional offices and 385 Tehsil offices all across the country.

BISP has the largest database of poorest of poor families in Pakistan which is the output of the largest and first ever door to door poverty survey. This data is used for the planning of pro-poor development policies and programmes and has been shared through protocols with various international and national organizations for research purposes.

BISP as an Organization

BISP has a nationwide presence with headquarters in Federal Capital Islamabad and 6 regional offices at provincial capitals, AJK and GB. There are 33 divisional offices and 385 Tehsil offices all across the country. This structure aims at facilitating programme implementation at national, provincial, divisional, and local level.

The regional offices in the provinces are headed by Director Generals while AJ&K and Gilgit-Baltistan are headed by Regional Directors. All Director Generals and Regional Directors administratively report to the Secretary, BISP, being head of the Management. There are five implementation levels:

  • Policy Level: Represented by BISP Council and BISP Board;
  • National Level: BISP Headquarters, specifically the Operations Wing, executes operations at the national level;
  • Provincial Level: 6 Provincial/Regional Offices ensure the implementation of the Programme in all provinces and regions;
  • Divisional Level: Over 30 Divisional Offices; and
  • Tehsil Level: More than 385 Tehsil Offices are in charge of the field work and maintain direct contacts with beneficiaries.

BISP Council

Government of Pakistan is represented through BISP Council. It is the highest authority of BISP. The President of Pakistan is its Chief Patron and the Prime Minister is the Executive Patron of BISP council. Its members will comprise of highly reputable, distinguished and well accomplished national and especially international individuals, appointed by the Chief Patron on the advice of the Executive Patron. Chairperson BISP is an ex officio member of the Council. The Council meets at least once in a year and has the following powers and functions:

  • To mobilize financial resources for the Programme, specifically for the Safety Net Programme;
  • To advise BISP Board on the following matters:
    • Policies on poverty reduction;
    • Enhancement of the Programme;
    • Reaching out to the donors through the Chairperson of the Programme; and
    • Affairs of the Board and performance of its functions.

BISP Board

BISP Board was first established in September 2008, and comprises of 9-11 members, including the Chairperson BISP, appointed by the Chief Patron on the advice of the Executive Patron. Its members comprise of representatives from government, non-governmental organisations and technical experts.  Secretary BISP is an ex officio Member and Secretary of the Board and also acts as its Principal Accounting Officer. It is the highest management body and, as such, in charge of policy development and strategy formulation with regard to BISP and its various initiatives.

The powers and functions of BISP Board are:

  • To approve budget of the Programme prepared by BISP Management;
  • To take decisions on the financial aspects of the programme submitted by the Management;
  • To monitor the programme in a transparent manner;
  • To make regulations and approve policies and manuals;
  • To approve eligibility criteria for financial assistance under the programme; and
  • To present annual progress reports to the Council and consider its recommendations

BISP Executive Board Headed By Chairperson

Government Members
Dr. Sania Nishtar – Chairperson of the Board
Mr. Ali Raza Bhutta – Ex-Officio Member
Secretary/Additional Secretary, Finance Division – Ex-Officio Member
Secretary/Additional Secretary, Economic Affairs Division – Ex-Officio Member
Secretary/Additional Secretary, Inter Provincial Coordination Division – Ex-Officio Member
Chairman, NADRA – Ex-Officio Member

Private Members
Dr. Ashfaque Hasan Khan, Principal & Dean of School of Social Sciences and Humanities, NUST, Islamabad
Mr. Atif Bajwa, Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Business Council, Ex-CEO Bank Alfalah, Soneri Bank and MCB
Mr. Qazi Azmat Isa, Economist, CEO PPAF
Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson, National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW)
Mr. Zafar A. Khan, Ex-Chairman, PTCL/KSE and PIA, Ex-CEO Engro

Whenever appropriate, the Board will delegate its authority to BISP Operations Wing or to a specifically assigned representative or staff member.

Human Resource Management (HRM) Wing

A dedicated HRM Wing has been established to develop and manage an efficient, effective and responsive human resource in BISP, headed by Director General. To achieve optimum organizational goals, certain administrative functions such as posting/transfer of staff (SPS 1-15), their recruitment and administration have been delegated to Regional heads.  Presently, HR wing is dealing with matters relating to establishment / Personnel administration of about 2300 employees. BISP Employees’ Service Regulations, 2018 is approved by the board. The regulations provide the employee’s terms and condition of service, regulate their conduct and deals with other matters connected therewith and ancillary thereto.

Implementation of Promotion policy and related procedures as envisaged in BISP Employees’ Service Regulations, 2018 and devising strategies for career planning are amongst the core functions of HR wing, which are being carried out by Career Planning (CP) cell. CP Cell is actively engaged in processing / settlement of long standing issues of seniority and collection of PERs of all the BISP employees.

Training and capacity building of employees is an important task undertaken by the Training Section of HRM Wing. The Training Section is engaged in providing adequate training to BISP’s employees for developing the requisite competence, knowledge and skills as required for the job. It conducts Training Needs Assessment (TNA) and develops training & capacity building strategies accordingly.

The Legal Section under HR wing is committed in taking merit based decisions on legal issues confronting BISP. The section is dealing with the processing of disciplinary/court cases in accordance with the relevant laws and rules. It also deals with Defense of Litigation cases against BISP in various courts and finalization of disciplinary cases, appeals/representations and general complaints of BISP Employees.

Cash Transfer (CT) Wing

BISP has been disbursing monthly cash assistance to its beneficiaries under its core programme called as “Unconditional Cash Transfer” (UCT). Cash transfer wing is headed by a Director General, who is responsible for core activities of BISP including cash transfer, beneficiary services, and field operations. The number of beneficiary families under UCT programme has increased from 1.7 million in FY 2008-09 to approximately 5.3 million in 2016. The cash assistance to each beneficiary family has been increased from Rs. 3000/quarter to Rs. 4700/quarter effective July 1, 2015.

National Socio Economic Registry (NSER) Wing

NSER wing, headed by a Director General, is responsible for managing and updating National Socioeconomic Registry. As the major social safety net program of the Government of Pakistan, BISP maintains the National Socioeconomic Registry-a database containing information on the socioeconomic status of over 27 million households (HH) across Pakistan except two agencies of FATA.

Complementary Initiatives (CI) Wing

There is an increasing role of complementary interventions in ensuring sustainable impact of cash transfer on uptake of education and health services, nutrition outcomes, and for improving livelihoods to increase the potential of graduation of BISP beneficiaries from poverty. Global experience suggests that where programmes are combined with complementary, well-sequenced interventions, they have greater potential of graduation of beneficiaries. The program has complementary components, including WeT, E-Commerce, Payment Complaint Management System (PCMS) etc.

Internal Audit Wing

A well functional Internal Audit Wing has been established in BISP, headed by a Director General. Objective of Internal Auditing is to assist the management for the effective discharge of its responsibilities by providing analyses, recommendations, and information concerning the activities reviewed. The International Donor Agencies are also putting emphasis on a robust and proactive Internal Audit function within BISP in order to obtain a reasonable assurance on reliability and accuracy of the Internal Control System.

Finance & Accounts Wing

Accountability and transparency is hallmark of all operations of BISP and Finance and Accounts Wing (F&A), headed by a Director General, is meticulously following it. A comprehensive system of financial controls has been developed, and is being implemented to ensure the validity and accuracy of all transactions. For the improvement of public finance, in particular on budget and expenditure management reforms, F&A Wing of BISP has developed a Financial & Accounting Manual which is duly approved from the Board. Financial management of the organization during the reported period i.e. FY 2013-14 & FY 2014-15 is managed under guidelines given in this manual and where BISP does not have its own rules or the manual is silent, Federal Government rules & regulations are being followed in line with BISP Act 2010. Monthly reconciliation of Accounts of GoP and Foreign Aided Funds is carried out with the AGPR and Banks. Fixed assets of BISP are also being reconciled with GL accounts in order for reporting to stakeholders including donors.

BISP normally receives budget call circular from Finance Division in mid December for preparation of budget estimates for the upcoming financial year. After receipt of budget call circular F&A wing seek three year budget estimates from all relevant wings. At present, BISP is dealing with multiple funds including funds from GoP, World Bank, DFID, & ADB. F&A wing ensures proper fund management for optimum utilization of funds. GoP finances are released on quarterly basis in line with the annual budget allocation by the Federal Government. In addition to that BISP is also being financed by donor agencies.

Annual & monthly Financial Statements for GoP and Donor Agencies, along with Consolidated Financial Statement of BISP, based on International Public Sector Accounting Standard (IPSAS) on Cash Basis of Accounting are prepared for BISP Management, donor agencies and Auditor General of Pakistan for annual statutory audit which is completed till June, 2015. Aggregate financial statements are given in following table[1].

 

Table 1: Detail of Budget Allocation / Releases & Expenditure since Inception till June 2016 (Rs. Billion)

Year Allocation % Share
GoP Foreign Total GoP Foreign
2008-09 33.98 33.98
2009-10 67.93 2.08 70.00 97.0 3.0
2010-11 48.73 1.27 50.00 97.5 2.5
2011-12 48.73 1.27 50.00 97.5 2.5
2012-13* 67.72 2.28 70.00 96.7 3.3
2013-14 68.50 6.50 75.00 91.3 8.7
2014-15 85.69 11.46 97.15 88.2 11.8
2015-16 87.61 14.39 102.00 85.9 14.1
Total 508.88 39.25 548.13 92.8 7.2
  Expenditure % Share
GoP Foreign Total GoP Foreign
2008-09 15.26 15.26
2009-10 39.57 0.02 39.58 99.96 0.04
2010-11 33.20 1.23 34.42 96.4 3.6
2011-12 36.51 13.02 49.53 73.7 26.3
2012-13 40.89 9.21 50.10 81.6 18.4
2013-14 57.28 12.33 69.62 82.3 17.7
2014-15 85.52 6.13 91.65 93.3 6.7
2015-16 87.61 14.39 102.00 85.9 14.1
Total 395.84 56.33 452.16 87.5 12.5

*Supplementary Grant of 10 billion for 2012-13 is included in total GOP

 

F&A wing has implemented the internationally recognized Accounting Software for better bookkeeping and reporting. In accounting system the electronic payment voucher is prepared. Currently all the accounting and bookkeeping of GoP, ADB, DFID, World Bank Technical assistance & Additional financing funds are being done on Quick Books financial software. The external audit of BISP is conducted by the Auditor General of Pakistan who has got the constitutional mandate to audit all the expenditure of the Government. External audit of BISP is up to date till FY 2014-15. Besides the mandatory audit, donors also request for validations and studies through third parties and BISP always facilitates such requests in view of its commitment to transparency and accountability. IT Unit Finance (FA) successfully runs Payment Assurance System (PAS) on tranches to ensure accuracy in payments being made to the beneficiaries as per payments list generated by Payment Wing. The whole exercise, cross checks data generation of eligible beneficiaries and helps in implementing a proper system of check & balance to ensure error-free payments to beneficiaries.

Management Information System (MIS) Wing

Keeping in view the growing and changing technological needs of BISP and to effectively facilitate BISP’s core business operations, MIS Wing is extensively involved in all core operations and initiatives. MIS wing is headed by Director General (NSER). As a result of nationwide survey, BISP evolved as one of the largest set of data repository in the country. BISP-MIS is extensively involved in Cash Grants under the National Household Registry (NHR), Integrations of Graduation Programs /Initiatives and Data Sharing and Analysis.

The current scope of work for BISP MIS is that it is engaged in software development & management/trainings for different BISP programmes/initiatives, core module(s) development of MIS which includes Unconditional Cash Transfers (UCT), Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT), Payments which includes Phase-I payments, PSC payments, payment adjustments, payment reconciliation with Pakistan Post and other agencies, Payments Complaint Management System (PCMS), Complaint Management System(CMS), Dashboards for different activities, beneficiary services, data sharing  and other initiatives like HRMIS, Contract Management system,  tracking software for Waseela-e Haq (WH),Waseela-e Rozgar and check-marking down to beneficiary level for audit purposes. MIS wing is also collaborating with external entities like NADRA, banks, Pak Post, etc.

For day to day operational activities, MIS Wing is engaged in providing support and data to different initiatives for policy & decision making and their implementation in the respective systems. For the completed softwares, MIS Wing is also involved in providing trainings, user guides to the respective initiatives and enhancing their understanding in the developed softwares. The main purpose of MIS is to develop the transparent and robust system(s) for efficient distribution of BISP operational/business services. MIS wing is handling the following core tasks:

Figure 1: MIS Wing Tasks

fig1

Research, Monitoring & Evaluation (R, M & E) Wing

Research, Monitoring & Evaluation is the key to success of any programme. It allows organizations to manage timelines and makes the implementation process more effective. R, M & E wing is also headed by Director General (CT).  To ensure that the right people receive the amount of benefit at the right time, in a transparent and efficient manner and with minimum error and misuse, all activities at BISP are supported by research. SSN program must be backed by scientific research for accurate targeting and effective implementation of the program. The core agenda of Research wing is prepared evidence based policy documents to improve the ability of BISP to develop more effective and sustainable social protection interventions with greater regional coherence.

M&E also ensures that the programme meets the target and does not exceed its budgetary costs. Rigorous evaluations are also built into the design of BISP. There is a dedicated unit of Monitoring and Evaluation at BISP supported by Research. Impact evaluations are conducted by external organizations to ensure credibility and transparency. The evaluations provide invaluable insight into the incentive structure and processes of an intervention, and form an essential part of policy design. Efforts are underway to strengthen the internal monitoring and evaluation system and an M&E framework is being prepared for the purpose. Currently, every process is independently monitored by external consultants to ensure compliance with laid down procedures and greater transparency. M&E Wing maintains close collaboration with external evaluators to ensure the process remains on track.

Information Technology Wing

In the current digital world, the Information Technology (IT) is a single most important enabler for improving efficiency and effectiveness across the organizations. BISP considers jumping onto the IT bandwagon as the clear path to gain effectiveness and efficiency in its internal processes which will make its operations transparent & successful. A high degree of employees’ satisfaction through transparent and efficient functioning would be at the focus of IT initiative. BISP is committed to apply state of the art IT technologies in achieving process improvement initiatives in the organization. Information Technology wing is headed by the DG (NSEr /MIS & IT) and provides technology infrastructure support to the organization including the following:

  • Local Area Network, Wide Area Network & WiFi Services
  • Network equipment Installation & Maintenance
  • Servers & Clients hardware Installation
  • Software configurations
  • VPN connectivity for secure communication with partner organizations

Information Technology Infrastructure is further strengthened with the recently inclusion of the hardware including Routers, Hardware Firewall, Multi Layer Switch, VPN Devices for the connectivity between BISP and  (Banks, NADRA & MoIT). BISP Server farm includes E-mail Servers, Application Servers, Domain Controllers, Database Servers, Antivirus Servers, FTP Servers, DHCP Servers, DNS Servers and Cognos Servers. BISP has successfully implemented WiFi internet connectivity head office. BISP has established mechanism to receive fraudulent SMS complaints and coordination with the Telecommunication companies (Mobilink, Telenor, Warid, Zong and Ufone) on fortnightly basis for further necessary action.