ISLAMABAD                -            The disbursement of payments to the beneficiaries’ of Ehsaas Emergency Cash relief program under the cate­gory-3 started here Friday.

The Ehsaas Emergency Cash dis­bursements have been ongoing for the last one month and so far, Rs. 89.143 billion have been distributed cumulatively for categories-I and II among 7.307 million deserving fam­ilies across the country.

With the commencement of pay­ments to category-3 beneficiaries, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Social Protec­tion and Poverty Alleviation, covered herself in Burqa (veil) made an un­announced visit to the payment site at Nurpur Shahan in the outskirts of Bari Imam, Islamabad.

She toured the site to get a first-hand look at the precautionary meas­ures and biometric disbursement services being offered to the Ehsaas Emergency Cash beneficiaries that fall under categories-2 and 3.

The beneficiaries under the catego­ry-3 have been identified through dis­trict administrations. Alongside that, payments to category-2 beneficiar­ies who entered the program through 8171 SMS service are also underway.

Dr. Nishtar showed up at the pay­ment site as Ehsaas beneficiary seek­ing assistance to withdraw Ehsaas Emergency Cash stipend of Rs. 12, 000 through biometric system. She sat in the queue and waited with ben­eficiaries who were sitting there to receive the Ehsaas Emergency cash.

She also interacted with recipients and volunteers on the ground and fa­cilitated payments to several benefi­ciaries herself. She also issued direc­tions to retailers and volunteers to make better use of preventive meas­ures to ensure safety of people while ensuring transparent payments.

During the visit, Dr. Nishtar was pleased to see how retailers, district administration, security agencies and volunteers provide a welcoming envi­ronment for deserving beneficiaries, including their methods for guiding beneficiaries through the new system of finger-print security.

“This visit in disguise was intend­ed to assess the campsite arrange­ments in terms of quality of services, transparency and accuracy in pay­ment system and COVID-19 preven­tive measures.” Dr. Nishtar comment­ed. “Beneficiaries of the program are mainly the labour class whose means of income are badly affected by COV­ID-19 restrictions. I strongly believe that it adds value to policymaking when you go in the field and inter­act with people on your own to gain first-hand knowledge. Today’s visit in­spired me greatly” she added. Dr Sania further said that these surprise visits are important to improve the quality of program delivery and she will be conducting more visits in future.

The Rs. 144 billion Ehsaas Emergen­cy Cash is the largest social protec­tion program of the government in re­sponse to the COVID-19 crisis that is serving 12 million families dependent on daily wages through a data driven and biometrically enabled transpar­ent system built in partnership with NADRA and two partnering banks