The Senate Standing Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety in its meeting on Tuesday at Parliament House, discussed in detail the status of the National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) Program. The Committee was also briefed on Trust for Voluntary Organization (TVO).
Chaired by Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, the meeting was attended by Senator Dr. Asif Kirmani, Senator Lt. Gen. Abdul Qayyum HI (M) Retd, Senator Muhammad Asad Ali Khan Junejo, Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi, Senator Samina Saeed, Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi and senior officers from the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety along with all concerned.
The Committee was informed that NSER falls under the ambit of the Benazir Income Support Program and was established to ensure objectivity in identifying beneficiaries and for transparency in implementing interventions, effective targeting of` BISP beneficiaries. The NSER at BISP was established as a result of a 2010-11’s nationwide Poverty Score Card (PSC) survey. Complete information on the socio-economic and welfare status of approximately 27 million household was collected under this PSC Survey. These data were then used, to determine beneficiaries’ identification and eligibility for BISP’s ‘Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) Payments’. This was done using a Proxy Means Test (PMT) targeting methodology. The data were further used to determine eligibility of beneficiaries for ‘Conditional Cash Transfer Program’, ‘Waseela-e-Taleem’, and other ‘Poverty- Exit’ initiatives by BISP. Beyond BISP, more than 100 government and non-government organizations have utilized this data to target beneficiaries for their respective programs. It has also provided support to cent percent women of 231 villages along the LoC.
Major challenges that the program faces is the law and order situation within a few areas. Logistic arrangements for hilly areas and harsh weather conditions are other issues that hinder the project. The Committee lauded the program and asserted that measures must be taken by the Ministry to ensure sustainability of beneficiaries, by introducing livelihood opportunities. Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi, stressed the need for non-duplication of efforts and optimum utilization of resources such as data from the Census Department.
Discussing the role, functions, budget and performance of the Trust Voluntary Organization, the Committee was informed that primary focus sectors are Primary Education, Primary Healthcare, Livelihood, Environment, Disaster Management, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Gender and Environment and protection are cross cutting themes in all of TVO interventions. The organization has a nationwide presence in all four provinces, through 8 regional offices located across Pakistan. The Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety is actively exploring avenues for assigning additional responsibilities to TVO according to its mandate. Financing options for such activities are also under consideration and include Grant making project for improving value chain for the poor. Operation and maintenance of Tahafuz Software and database is also underway designed to provide health and nutrition facilities to families living in remote areas of the country. The pilot program budget entails PKR 55 billion. The Committee lauded all TVO efforts and was of the view that a detailed discussion will be held once TORs are formulated.