ISLAMABAD - The PML-N government is planning to increase volume of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) in the upcoming budget 2014-15 to ensure financial assistance to the poorest of the poor segment of the society.

The proposed plan to increase the budget of BISP was in pipeline keeping in view the public demand from different areas of the country especially Balochistan and KP, sources in BISP shared with The Nation. The programme has almost over five million beneficiaries against the survey identified around eight million poorest people in the country for this assistance. According to the current figures of the beneficiaries, 1.8 million in Punjab, 1.6 million Sindh, around one million in KP, 0.2 in Balochistan, nearly 96,000 in AJK and over 9,000 in Federal Capital are receiving this monthly support.

The proposed plan, sources said, the number of beneficiaries and monthly package of the beneficiaries is likely to be increased in the upcoming federal budget 2014-15.

When contacted, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar expressed positive intentions of the government to increase the volume of the BISP programme in the budget. "The government is trying to increase Benazir Income Support Programme budget as per the fiscal space is available," said Dar, responding a query about increase in BISP programme.  Both the governments of the PML-N and PPP have so far disbursed around Rs192 billion among five million families from 2008 to 2014 under BISP. In order to facilitate the ‘poorest of the poor', around 27 million households families were surveyed in different in part of the country, and among 8 million poorest families over five million beneficiaries are getting this assistance.

Sources said the incumbent government has almost chalked-out a plan to merge BISP with Pakistan Baitul Mal but final approval in this connection is still awaited. This proposed move of the government has earlier hit a snag due to severe criticism from the major opposition parties including the PPP. The PPP had reportedly argued that BISP was approved by the Parliament and its status could not be changed with any administrative order.