ISLAMABAD    -  Prime Minister Imran Khan was on Monday told that the World Bank had doubled its assistance for Ehsaas Programme which would ensure social safety of maximum deserving people through further expansion of the programme.

The prime minister was told this during a meeting with Special Assistant to PM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishter and Country Director World Bank Najy Benhassine, who called on him here.

The World Bank’s Country Director describing the Ehsaas Programme as ‘a flagship programme of social safety’ said it was a model for other countries to follow as well.

The prime minister directed Special Assistant Dr Sania Nisher to formulate a comprehensive strategy for the expansion of Ehsaas Programme.

Najy Benhassine, on this occasion, appreciated the measures taken by the prime minister regarding climate change.

He was appreciative of Pakistan’s commitment to generating electricity through other environment-friendly and renewable energy sources instead of coal, and described it a very responsible step towards checking the increasing hazardous effects of climate change in the region.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said the people of Lahore rejected the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) narrative by taking a “big decision” of not attending its public meeting on Sunday.

The Prime Minister expressed during two separate meetings here with party spokespersons and senior leaders to discuss opposition’s movement against the PTI-government and matters related to national security day after the PDM public meeting in Lahore.

The first meeting was also attended by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Bazdar and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan among other officials.

Imran Khan while speaking to the party leaders said the real intention behind opposition’s “fake narrative” has been exposed before the nation in last night’s rally. He said people had also rejected the opposition’s narrative of safeguarding their corruption in public gatherings following the 2018 elections defeat.

Expressing satisfaction over the government’s strategy to deal with the PDM movement, the PTI leaders said opposition parties were in a state of confusion over the decision of stepping down from legislative assemblies. The party leaders said the government’s decision of not creating hurdles for the Lahore rally proved right. They were of the view that opposition parties’ defeat in recently-held Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) elections and their failure to gather a large number of people in their series of rallies have miserably failed their ‘anti-state narrative.’

Speaking separately to the government’s spokespersons, Prime Minister said that the people of Lahore were politically mature and it took him 14 years to mobilise them to attend his political rallies.

He directed them to tell the opposition leaders at every forum that they will not get NRO-like deal come what may. He urged the spokespersons to counter the opposition’s narrative vigorously and expose it before public.

Newly-appointed Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, federal ministers Faisal Vawda, Shafqat Mahmood, Ali Zaidi and others were present during the meeting.

Also, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that said the economic activities generated by the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) would increase job opportunities for local skilled and un-skilled labour. Chairing the 7th meeting of Board of Approvals for Special Economic Zones, the Prime Minister directed to provide utility services, including electricity and gas to the SEZs on priority.

The prime minister said that industrial development was vital for economic growth. He emphasised that the government was committed to providing ease-of-doing-business to the investors.

The meeting was apprised that there are 19 SEZs notified in the country. The Board approved SEZ Zone Enterprise Admission and Sale and Lease of Plot Regulations 2020.

The Board Meeting also approved launching of online SEZ Management Information System whereby the approvals process will be digitalized and streamlined and it will also act as a one-window for investors and will ensure transparency.  It would also act as a one-window for investors and ensure transparency.

The meeting was attended by Ministers Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Senator Shibli Faraz, and Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehmood Khan, Chief Secretaries of Sindh and Balochistan and other senior officers of concerned departments.  Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan and Deputy Governor State Bank joined the meeting via video link.