All Eyes On Social Protection

Tabadlab’s latest Islahati Jaiza looks at BISP, Ehsaas highlighting the need for social protection reform.

The idea behind the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) was to support income, not poverty alleviation, explains development economist and the first head of BISP, Dr. Kaisar Bengali, as he talks about creating BISP, in the latest episode of Tabadlab’s Islahati Jaiza. 

This episode of Islahati Jaiza delves into the evolution and future of social protection reform efforts that commenced in 2008 through the Benazir Income Support Programme and later complemented by the Ehsas Emergency Cash Programme in 2020. 

Dr. Bengali and Haris Gazdar, the director of the Collective for Social Science Research, meticulously unpack the successes and shortcomings of Pakistan's social protection policy, examining its development and discussing what is necessary for it to achieve longevity and sustainability.

In the current economic crisis, amid rising inflation, this episode addresses a crucial question: How can Pakistan's social protection policy be enhanced to meet the needs of millions facing an increasingly precarious situation with their livelihoods? Is it possible to augment and broaden the scope of BISP to evolve it into a Universal Basic Income (UBI) initiative?

What is Islahati Jaiza?

As the country grapples with polycrisis, Tabadlab engages with experts to analyse reform efforts that have previously been enacted to address the country’s challenges. By understanding the successes and shortfalls of these policies, programs, and institutions, the Islahati Jaiza series will bring to light important insights about reforms in Pakistani public policy. 

In each episode, panelists draw on years of expertise to trace reforms in a particular sector (and in some cases, particular jurisdictions), to try to unpack their impact, and chart a path forward. 

The inaugural episode of Islahati Jaiza focused on the past two decades of reform in the education sector in the Punjab, explaining how Punjab gained the momentum and success it did in that area.

Pakistan is in urgent need of a comprehensive reform agenda to address its longstanding challenges and meet the needs of the future amidst shifting technologies and the ever-growing threat of climate change. Tabadlab’s Islahati Jaiza is an effort to explore reforms attempted in the recent past, to help inform future policy.