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October 8, 2019

ADB approves $200 million additional loan for BISP


October 8, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $200 million as an additional financing loan for the country’s social protection program, the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), it said on Monday.

The loan is a part of the ADB-financed social protection development project approved in October 2013. The project entered implementation stage in June 2014. The project’s objective is to increase resilience of BISP female beneficiaries and their families.

ADB said the BISP, which is primarily funded by the government of Pakistan, supports more than five million eligible families across the country through over $3.6 billion in total cash transfers disbursed so far. The ADB-financed project enabled the enrollment of over 855,000 women beneficiaries to BISP, or about 15 percent of the eligible beneficiaries. The $200 million additional financing for this project will continue to support cash transfers as well as help BISP implement institutional strengthening measures.

“ADB’s additional financing will support further institutional strengthening and improvements in financial management and controls in BISP,” ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang said. “A policy research unit will also be established within BISP to help monitor and improve the performance of ongoing programs and design new cost-effective and evidence-based initiatives such as poverty graduation programs and conditional cash transfers for health and nutrition in line with global best practices.”

Manila-based lending agency earmarked $300 million specifically for BISP under its country operations business plan (2019-21). BISP, considered one of the largest social protection programs in South Asia, is part of a larger government strategy, called Ehsaas, to reduce poverty and inequality. BISP supports Ehsaas through cash transfers, poverty graduation programs, and a targeted social safety net.

“Social protection programs like the BISP are crucial to ensure that the poorest segments of the population do not go further into poverty, especially at a time when the country is facing difficult macroeconomic challenges,” Tariq Niazi, the director of public management, financial sector, and trade for ADB’s Central and West Asia department said. “We are also committed to helping the government of Pakistan implement alternative modalities for social protection and poverty reduction such as asset transfer programs that promote improved human capital and reduce intergenerational poverty.”

ADB said it is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. “In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.”

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