ISLAMABAD - Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz has said that Rs 400 billion construction related projects will be initiated by the end of current year.

It is necessary to keep this in mind that the facility or a waiver available to us from IMF or FATF, because of COVID-19, to implement policy decision is till December 31st 2020 and in this small window of October and December around Rs 400 billion projects are being initiated, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said while addressing a Press conference here.

Flanked by Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on

 Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar, Shibli Faraz said that project envisaging construction of houses and apartments worth Rs 145 billion will be started on October 20th.

Till December another phase of construction projects will be initiated, he said.

Construction is an important sector and o daily basis the problems related to these projects will be resolved stating a mechanism in this regard has been prepared.

Regarding the Prime Minister meeting of National Coordination Committee on Housing, Construction and Development, Shibli Faraz said  that it was attended by the country’s prominent investors and builders.

He said the meeting discussed several proposals to uplift the sector including holding international roadshows for construction related projects in order to attract investment of overseas Pakistanis. 

He said the Prime Minister has now decided to hold the meeting of the committee every two or three days keeping in view the importance of the sector which is both labour and capital intensive.

Shibli Faraz said that those constructing five marla houses will be given loans on five per cent markup and for the 10 marla houses, the mark up rate will be seven per cent. 

He said installments will be such that the people could easily pay.

He said additional Rs 30 billion have been set aside as subsidy for Naya Pakistan Housing scheme.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar said that the government has decided to expand the scope of the Ehsas Emergency Cash programme.

She said its budget is being increased from Rs 144 billion to Rs 203 billion.

She said 16.9 million deserving families, which almost cover more than half of Pakistan’s population, will benefit from this scheme.

Initially, the programme was launched on April 9, 2020 with a budget of Rs. 144 billion for 12 million beneficiaries.

Dr Sania Nishtar said distribution of cash assistance is continuing till the last deserving family gets the amount.

She said that Ehsas Emergency Cash programme is the biggest social protection package announced in Pakistan’s history.

She said this programme is being commended at the international level under which cash assistance is being provided to deserving families in a transparent manner and beyond political affiliation.

Dr. Sania Nishtar, said, “The programme is fully transparent, rule and merit based, and apolitical. Sindh gains the most from this programme which shows the apolitical nature of programme.

”For emergency cash payments, the digital capabilities developed over the past year as part of Ehsaas strategy have positively been adapted. Requests were sought through an SMS short code service; data analytics enabled eligibility ascertainment, using unique national identification numbers and drawing on the National Socioeconomic Registry and wealth proxies (travel, taxes, billing, assets ownership data and government employment status), and payments are biometrically verified.To ensure payments to beneficiaries who are eligible but were facing problems in withdrawing money owing to problems with biometric identification, Ehsaas came up with a supplementary payment solution. Now, beneficiaries with this issue are being paid out exclusively in the designated bank branches of partner banks. Likewise, to ease out the payment process for families of deceased beneficiaries who are eligible, Dr. Sania has outlined a procedure. Now, families of dead beneficiaries are required to send out an application in the name of Dr. Sania Nishtar with CNIC details of their dead family member alongwith those of eligible family member straight to Ehsaas offices at Islamabad. Till today 12.86 million beneficiaries across the country have received one-time cash assistance of Rs. 155.64 billion.