Effectiveness of Cash Transfer Programmes for Household Welfare in Pakistan: The Case of the Benazir Income Support Programme

Publication Year : 2021

Cash transfer programmes are widely considered a ‘magic bullet’ for reducing poverty. Whether they actually have such an incredible impact on poverty reduction is debatable but they surely are gaining credibility as an effective safety net mechanism and consequently an integral part of inclusive growth strategies in many developing countries. The paper aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the BISP in sustaining a recipient household’s welfare in the face of prevailing tough economic conditions. The findings of this study show that BISP has been able to provide some relief to the recipient households as far as food and health expenditures are concerned. In the Programme’s defence it could, however, be said that the rationale behind the initiative was to provide assistance to the poorest of the poor households in the face of rising food and fuel prices and not alleviating poverty per se. In the four years since its inception, the Programme has shown the ability to evolve with time, adjusting to the changing needs and criticism. The present study shows that although not all poor households were being covered by the Programme, like those which unsuccessfully attempted to get the BISP assistance, but the ones getting it were mostly poor (with a few exceptions where adherence to the set criteria was found wanting and consequently leakages to richer households was indicated). This ability to reach the poor, however, is not matched by the Programme in its capacity to encourage a household’s exit from poverty.