August 1, 2012 -
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered the streamlining of pension disbursements, particularly for those who are disabled.
In the current system, pensioners have to queue for days to receive payments. Despite getting their pensions in person, they still need to provide identification papers to verify who they are.
Noting the delays faced by pensioners in receive funds, Zardari has directed the National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) to work on a comprehensive plan to streamline the pension system.
NADRA is expected to submit proposals to the Pakistani cabinet by mid-August that will recommend the issuance of fingerprint biometrics smart cards to enable pensioners to withdraw their pension from ATMs throughout the country.
NADRA intends to launch its biometric verification system in two phases. The first phase will consist of the enrolment of all pensioners at NADRA registration centers where the pensioners have to submit to biometric capture of their thumbprints in order to be issued with national ID cards. The second phase will enable pensioners to withdraw funds from any of NADRA’s E-Sahulat branchless banking franchisees, which numbers over 6,000 across the country.
Pensioners receiving less than $US105 per month will be provided with free smart cards and disabled pensioners will receive their pension payments directly at home.
The changes to the pension system were made in conjunction with the National Bank of Pakistan, Central Directorate of National Savings and the Auditor General. The government will also work to facilitate pension payments using biometric verification at post offices throughout Pakistan.
Should Pakistan reform its social benefit programs to use biometrics?