ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the government is providing cash assistance to mitigate the suffering of the common people in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Talking to media in Islamabad on Saturday, she said the government is reaching out to help the oppressed and destitute class by extending financial assistance to them under the Ehsaas Cash Emergency Program.

She said at least 815,548 families received the cash assistance by yesterday. In Islamabad 27 centres have been set up for distribution of cash grants among 43,000 families in the first phase. She said only those people should come to the cash points who have received an SMS in this regard, others should wait for the next phase which will be started soon.

She asked the elements in the trading community who were minting money at the cost of the consumers to focus on serving humanity at this difficult time as this was not a time to be earning undue profit. She appreciated philanthropists for contributing generously to the Prime Minister’s Corona Relief Programme and thanked the volunteers for helping the government in ensuring delivery of ration to the doorstep of deserving people. She said that the Pakistani nation has always faced adversities with courage and transformed challenges into opportunities, and this time it would do the same with national unity and harmony.

Replying to media persons’ questions she said that the Cash Emergency Programme is comprised of three phases. In the next phase, cash would the distributed among those registered under Kifalat programme whereas in the third phase cash would be disbursed among below poverty line families whose bread earners lost jobs due to the ongoing lockdown. Lists of these 50,000 families had been provided by the district administration in all parts of the country, the SAPM said.

Meanwhile, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Saturday said the unified decision regarding lockdown would be made on April 13 with all stakeholders in the meeting of National Coordination Committee (NCC) to evolve a future strategy. Prime Minister Imran Khan was himself monitoring and reviewing the prevailing situation to successfully fight with coronavirus pandemic, she said while talking to a private news channel.

She said the government’s economic team would meet the prime minister tomorrow (Sunday) to discuss the economic plight of the country, adding the recommendations of the meeting would be presented before the National Coordination Committee as well for final decision.

The SPAM said the government was providing financial assistance through Ehsaas Cash Emergency Programme and the programme reflected Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision toward poor and deprived segment of the society. She said the NCC meeting was likely to decide providing more relief to the people, who were facing difficulties and hardships due to lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.

She said 18th amendment had authorised the provinces to take independent decision while the federal government was fully cooperating with the provincial governments as National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had already been providing Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) to them.