Since its inception, experts recorded that Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), one of the 34 executing agencies of Ehsaas has managed to disburse an amount of Rs 1,112.20 billion by unconditional and conditional cash transfer grants. Social protection signifies the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance the quality of their lives on sustainable basis and create the conditions for all individuals to attain their full potential.
Social protection can help build the resilience of the poor and vulnerable segments by supporting them against negative income shocks and protecting essential household expenditures such that on food, health and education. The social and economic effects of COVID-19 are being felt with high intensity across least-developed, developing and emerging market economies irrespective of their income levels.
|BISP Financial Achievements (Rs in billion)|
|Funds Transfer to Cash Grants||Number of Beneficiaries
|Financial Year||Released|| Conditional Cash
| Unconditional Cash
Most of these will experience a low GDP growth during the pandemic period coupled with decline in employment levels leading to a worsening situation in respect of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition. The COVID-19 pandemic is posing an unprecedented challenge to countries’ social protection systems. Informal workers are at a high risk as they are not covered by any formal social assistance or social insurance mechanism. The socio-economic consequences includes a decrease in demand for goods and services, supply chain disruptions and employment and income losses.
Concurrently, capacities and resources vary across the world to overcome this pandemic and its health, social and economic challenges associated with it. Social protection, therefore has a central role to play in mitigating the social, economic and health dimensions of the crisis. It fulfils three interrelated roles: (i) protecting critically threatened livelihoods; (ii) preserving and strengthening capacity for recovery; and (iii) building future resilience.
Pakistan’s poverty reduction efforts have been widely documented and acknowledged. Remittances, safety net transfers and informal system of philanthropic networks have contributed to poverty alleviation. Under social safety nets, Pakistan’s Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme has helped to counter the socio-economic fallout of the pandemic.
Statistics showed that BISP has yet to offer a 30 percent subsidy to 20 million families on the purchase of flour, pulses and cooking oil. Sources recorded that it had been proclaimed Rs120 billion historic welfare programme on November 3, 2021, to offer relief to the poor masses in view of the price hike. Total 30 percent subsidy (Rs1,000 a month) to each of the 20 million families on the purchase of flour, pulses, ghee and cooking oil under the Ehsaas Rashan.
The BISP was supposed to provide the subsidy under the Ehsaas Rashan subsidy programme however, it could not start despite more than three months have passed. Keeping in view the keen interest of people, experts have decided to reopen the Ehsaas (8171 SMS service) so that more deserving families can benefit from the Rashan Riayat programme of Ehsaas. Families with monthly income less than Rs50,000 can enroll themselves by simply sending their CNIC to 8171. Only one member of an applicant’s family whose mobile number is issued on his own CNIC can register his family through 8171. The formal rollout of the programme in partnership with National Bank of Pakistan is just on the anvil. In this regard, all arrangements are ready. Till the portal closed in January, 2022, it is said that under the first phase of registration, 19.5 million applications were received out of which 9.3 million unique families were identified. The eligibility of these families is currently being verified through Ehsaas Survey Registry and Data Analytics and some have already started receiving eligibility messages from 8171 confirming their eligibility and are starting to utilise the Ehsaas Rashan subsidy.
Overall, 130 million people will benefit from the programme countrywide which is around 53 percent of the country’s population. Provincial Governments of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK are participating in the Ehsaas Rashan Riayat programme. The federal government and all participating federating units are sharing fiscal resources.