ISLAMABAD: Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director Xiaohong Yang and Economic Affairs Division Secretary Noor Ahmed on Friday signed a $200 million additional financing agreement to help support the government’s flagship social protection initiative, the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
BISP Secretary Ali Raza Bhutta signed the accompanying project agreement with ADB, according to a statement issued by the Economic Affairs Division. Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar was also present on the occasion.
BISP, considered one of the largest social protection programmes in South Asia, is part of a larger government strategy called “Ehsaas”, which focuses on the eradication of poverty and inequality. The programme supports Ehsaas through cash transfers, poverty graduation initiatives, and a targeted safety net.
The ADB-financed Social Protection Development Project, approved in October 2013, has enabled the enrollment of over 855,000 women beneficiaries to the programme. The $200 million additional financing will continue to support this initiative as well as help BISP to implement institutional strengthening measures.
“ADB’s additional financing will support further institutional strengthening of BISP. A policy research unit will be established within BISP to help monitor and improve ongoing programmes and design new evidence-based initiatives such as conditional cash transfers, following global best practices,” said ADB Country Director Xiaohong Yang.
She added that ADB was committed to helping Pakistan implement alternate modalities for social protection and poverty reduction that promote improved human capital and reduction in intergenerational poverty.
Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar on the occasion appreciated the bank’s commitment to supporting Pakistan and its people, saying that the assistance from ADB will help further strengthen the national social protection programme and provide support to the poorest segment of the population under the government’s Ehsaas strategy.