The Government of Pakistan launched the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) in July 2008 to serve as the premier national safety net institution with the primary objective of consumption smoothing and alleviating adverse effects of slow economic growth. The country at that time was experiencing rapid food price inflation, with prices of basic necessities reaching a 30-year high, and economic fallout from the global financial crisis. The Programme targets cash transfers to vulnerable and deserving women and their families from the poorest households across the country irrespective of political affiliations, racial identity, geographic location, and religious beliefs. The long term objectives include meeting the targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on eradicating extreme and chronic poverty and empowering women.
The Programme was established through an Act of Parliament, and works under the executive patronage of the Prime Minister of Pakistan and chief patronage of the President of Pakistan. The goals of the 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; and
3. Reduce poverty and promote equitable distribution of wealth especially for the low income groups.
BISP has the largest database of the poorest households in Pakistan which is the output of the first national door-to-door poverty survey. This data is used for the planning poverty alleviation and social protection development policies and programmes, and has been shared under protocols with various international and national organizations for research purposes.
BISP operates nationwide through a network of 385 tehsil offices, 33 divisional offices, six regional offices, and its headquarters in Islamabad.