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Benazir Card Scheme

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Benazir Income Programme proposed for facilitating poor in PSDP 2008-09

ISLAMABAD, Jun 11 (APP): "Benazir Income Programme" has been proposed by the government in Public Sector Developmental Programme (PSDP) 2008-09 to provide relief to the depressed segment of society in the wake of price-hike.

The programme meant purely for poor initially features Rs. 34 billion that would be increased upto Rs. 50 billion, according to a budgetary document released here Wednesday.

Under the programme, each deserving family would be paid Rs. 1000 per month. Deserving families would be identified by a set procedure through NADRA?s Computerised Data Base.

Citizens having Benazir Card would be given employment, medical insurance, food subsidy as well as skilled training to their youths.

Besides, the poor families would also get grants from other programmes like Baitul Mal. They would get commodities of daily use at subsidized rates from Utility Stores. The number of Utility Stores would increased upto 6000.


Rs34bn Benazir Card Scheme for poor launched

Thursday, June 12, 2008

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: To protect the poorest of the poor, Finance Minister Syed Naveed Qamar on Wednesday announced the launch of Rs34 billion Benazir Card Scheme, under which Rs1,000 per month would be provided to every family head, after selecting deserving members from the database of NADRA.

The facility would be extended to Rs50 billion at a later stage after successful inception of the scheme in the first phase, the minister said while announcing the Income Support Programme (ISP) for the targeted section.

Without mentioning total number of beneficiaries of the scheme, the minister said the card would be issued to only those who have registered with NADRA and those without CNICs would get their registration and CNICs freely as the prime minister had already announced the scheme for the poor.

Once the card is issued to deserving families, the minister explained, the list would be continuously updated but made it clear that no uncles or relatives of any influential persons or parliamentarians would be included in the list.

Under the scheme, the poor would receive essential food items including wheat flour, rice, pulses and edible oil to offset the effects of soaring inflation.

According to an estimate, the basket of poor comprises extreme poor 1.1 per cent (0.24 million), ultra poor 10.5 per cent (1.6 million) and poor 16.4 per cent (4.04 million), who are targeted to be covered under the food safety net.

The cardholders would also benefit from the Bait-ul-Maal as well. The cardholders would get daily-use items from the Utility Stores as well, he said.



A Pre-mature analysis:

-- How reliable is the NADRA "computerised" database?

-- Does the NADRA database provide any information on "household" incomes?

-- Rs. 1000/- is an insufficient amount per family unit.

-- The population of Pakistan comprises more than 160 million. The food safety net targets only a minuscule fraction of the entire population below the all controversial "poverty line". The food deficient population of Pakistan comprises more than 70 percent of the entire population.

-- Has any strategy for rural poor been outlined? Poverty in the rural areas of Pakistan is more than in the urban areas of Pakistan. According to international estimates, population living below the $2 poverty line makes up for more than 65% of the entire population while the percentage of population living below our "national" poverty line comprises about 32% - an unrealistic figure by any standard. Please note that these figures are nearly a decade old and since then situation has aggravated further.

-- With increasing food inflation and reduced subsidy on food items, how does the government plan on alleviating the condition of the poor?

Edited by Scylla

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