ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar on Sunday said that the payment process under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme will start from Wednesday to support the vulnerable segments of society affected by the lockdown.
Addressing a press conference in the federal capital, Dr Sania said that the programme was launched to support the daily wagers and piece-rate workers after lockdown in the country due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
The programme will benefit the deserving people from all the four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan, through allocating quota as per census. Punjab will contribute Rs700,000 and Sindh Rs250,000 from their own budget in this programme, she added.
The PM’s aide said that under an aggressive communication campaign launched recently to benefit four million people, the deserving ones can send SMS to 8171 to check their eligibility status and will be informed on how to collect money, if they are found eligible.
“If they are not identified in the database, they will be directed to contact their respective district administration,” she added.
She further said that there will be three types of responses to people’s SMS seeking cash assistance, which include “eligible”, “ineligible”, and “contact to your respective district administration”.
She said that employees of provincial and federal governments were not eligible for the assistance. “Presently we have database of employees of provincial and federal governments, Railways, Pakistan Post, and Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), while data of autonomous bodies will hopefully be available in next 24 hours,” she added.
She said that an SMS response would have to go through the wealth profiling test before becoming eligible for the assistance.
She also said that existing Kafalat beneficiaries, who were getting regular cash transfer of Rs2,000 per month, would be given additional one thousand rupees; hence, they too would get a tranche of Rs12,000 covering four months. She added that under this category 4.5 million people would be benefited.
Dr Sania said that higher eligibility or poverty threshold would be used to identify four million beneficiaries through the national socioeconomic databases, while another 3.5 million people would come from districts.
Regarding mode of payments, she said that deserving families would get cash assistance of Rs12,000 after biometric verification through over 18,065 sale points or retail shops of Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and Bank Alfalah across Pakistan.
She also said that the provincial governments would be requested to provide open public spaces for setting up cash disbursement arrangements, security for these spaces, permission to keep retail POS agents open, management of crowds at cash disbursement points and ensuring preventive measures like facility of hand washing, etc.
The assistance under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme would be provided on name of male member of the family, she added
Dr Sania expressed her gratitude to the department’s, including National Database Registration Authority (NDMA), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and others for providing their support to make this initiative a success.
She said that the beneficiaries of this programme will be finalised through proper scrutinising mechanisms such as data analytics, wealth profiling, average monthly bills, travelling history, etc.
She also said that the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme will help 12 million families by providing them financial assistance of Rs12,000 per family and the total budget approved for this initiative is Rs144 billion. The budget could be increased in the coming days depending on the rise in demand, she added.
She further said that this programme is one of the largest social safety net initiatives in the history of the country for disbursement of cash assistance among the needy at this critical time when social distancing measures are unavoidable.