ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar on Sunday announced that destitute people will start receiving funds under the state-run Ehsaas Emergency Cash Assistance Payments from Wednesday.

While addressing press conference in the federal capital, she said the federal government will provide cash assistance of Rs 12,000 to over 12 million deserving families under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program in the wake of COVID-19.

She said that an SMS service to get the assistance is continuing and we have received millions of messages on 8171. She claimed that the PTI government is running the biggest relief campaign in country’s history. 

Sania Nishtar said that it is a one-time assistance and 144 billion rupees have been allocated for the purpose. She, however, said that additional resources may be earmarked if the demand for Ehsaas Emergency Cash assistance is higher. She said quota for all the federating units, including Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Kashmir, had been allocated as per census, she said that Punjab has earmarked additional funds for 700,000 people and Sindh 250,000 people of deserving families.

The Special Assistant said that transfer of cash assistance will be ensured in transparent and rule-based manner. She said 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 employees of provincial and federal governments are not eligible for the assistance. “At present, we have database of employees of provincial and federal governments, Railways, Pakistan Post, and BISP,” she said adding that the data of autonomous bodies will hopefully be available in next 24 hours.

She said an SMS response will have to go through the wealth profiling test before becoming eligible for the assistance. She said existing Kafalat beneficiaries, who are getting regular cash transfer of 2000 rupees per month, will be given additional one thousand rupees; hence, they too will get a tranche of 12,000 rupees covering four months. She said under this category 4.5 million people will be benefited. She said higher eligibility or poverty threshold will be used to identify four million beneficiaries through the national socioeconomic databases, while another 3.5 million people will come from districts.

Regarding mode of payments, Dr Sania Nishtar said that deserving families will get cash assistance of 12,000 rupees after biometric verification through over 18,065 sale points or retail shops of Habib Bank Limited and Bank Al-Falah across Pakistan.

 

She also said the federal government and provinces had developed consensus and it was agreed that provinces will also provide help to the deserving families through Ehsaas program.

 

Punjab has agreed to pay to additional 700,000 and Sindh to 250,000 deserving families through Ehsaas cash assistance, she said.  “Both the provinces have earmarked additional funds for these people.”

 

Negotiations with other federating units are also underway in this regard, she added. This way the government will be providing cash assistance to 13 million people through Ehsaas cash assistance, Dr Sania Nishtar said.

 

She said that the assistance to the provinces and territories will be provided on the basis of population. The distribution of cash assistance is not being made through NFC award as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan is not included in it, she argued.

 

The Special Assistant also claimed that transfer of cash assistance will be ensured in transparent and rule-based manner. She said that the beneficiaries of cash assistance have been divided into three categories, in the category one, Special cash assistance of Rs. 1,000 per month will be given to the currently enrolled 4.5 million Kafalat beneficiary families, in addition to the regular cash transfer of Rs. 2,000 per month.

They will get a lump sum of Rs 12,000 covering four months.  In Category two, 4 million daily wagers will receive Rs 12000 per month. She said higher eligibility or poverty threshold will be used to identify four million beneficiaries through the national socioeconomic databases. In the category three, another 3.5 million people will come from districts.

 

She said that sanitation measures will be ensured on all the sale points to ensure the safety of the beneficiaries from the virus. Moreover, State bank of Pakistan has been requested to issue new currency note for the purpose, she informed.

 

The verification of deserving people is seven step process, she said, adding that State Bank of Pakistan and FBR have been requested to provide the account details of the people with a deposit of more than Rs 50000 in their accounts and tax fillers. People with more than Rs 50,000 will not be eligible for the assistance, she added. Besides, utility bills, employment details, travel history etc. will also be used for the verification of the deserving candidates, she maintained.

 

When asked about the data of the daily wage earners, she replied that beside Rs144 billion of emergency assistance, a grant of Rs 200 billion was allocated for the daily wagers working in industries. “We are working with the Ministry of Industries to compile their data. There will be a lot of daily wagers who will join our basket.” There is another basket of the ministry of industries and when they compile the list of daily wagers then we can also run our cash machine for them”. She said that they are in the process of waving of Rs 1 SMS fee.