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The government has decided to distribute some 30,000 smartphones to the beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). The step has been taken to enhance financial and digital inclusion.

The 3G-enabled smartphones would be provided in unserved and underserved areas of Balochistan and FATA under a programme, which would be funded by Universal Service Fund (USF), as the government has upgraded its scope.

Moreover, Rs. 250 mobile credit would be given every month to the beneficiaries. Sources at Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications on Sunday said that according to latest reports, Pakistan scored 69 percent on financial and digital inclusion and remained at 14th position among 26 emerging or third world countries.

The sources said the pilot project would cover Sibi, Harnai, Barkhan, Loralai-Zhob, Musakhel, Sherani-Kalat, Kharan/Washuk, Kohlu, Dera Bugti, Kohistan and entire FATA with all seven agencies.

Benazir Income Support Programme has already launched an e-commerce facility for the promotion of handicraft skills of BISP beneficiaries, aimed at providing them better access to their products in national and international markets.

The objective is to alleviate poverty in rural and semi-urban areas of Pakistan by supporting rural based micro and small enterprises. Market access to the products of marginalized segments will contribute to their welfare and the effects of such measures will also give the boost to the economy of Pakistan, the sources said.

Regarding USF board’s meeting, the sources said, it has taken into consideration important upcoming projects, including the approval of 40 telecentres, small lots and the establishment of computer labs initially in 100 girls’ schools being run under Islamabad Capital Territory administration.

According to official documents, the USF has been mandated to provide telecommunication coverage to unserved and underserved areas across Pakistan. Different programmes have been designed and multiple projects have been undertaken to achieve the goals set forth by the federal government.

Meanwhile, a pilot phase of Benazir Income Support Programme’s new poverty survey started from Haripur where desk approach (self-registration) has been adopted. The Benazir Income Support Programme has set up 52 operational counters at 31 operational sites in collaboration with NADRA. Till date, 25 percent of the expected registration has been completed and the process is expected to be completed by October.

On the other hand, the government of Punjab has decided to make the farmers aware of digital technologies. In this regard, the smartphones will be provided to them for just PKR 100/-

The e-Governance campaigns are on the rise in the country. Recently we saw that the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) in collaboration with the Haier mobile distributed around 10,000 customized smartphones to the health officials, which was an appreciable step.

The smartphones offered the apps that allowed the health officials to update their daily tasks on the servers installed at the PITB.

A few months ago, some smartphones and tablets were provided to the government schools in Punjab under the E-Reporting program to monitor the progress of the schools.

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