ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar and her team over the World Bank's listing of Ehsaas Emergency Cash (EEC) program amongst the top four social protection initiatives in the world.

In a tweet on Sunday, he said: “This is a milestone and well deserved international recognition.”

Under the EEC program, a stipend of Rs12,000 was given to as many as 15 million families each the previous year which made it the largest and most extensive social protection program in the history of the country.

The World Bank released a report on global social protection responses to Covid-19 on Saturday. The report is called a “living paper”, and it is a partnership effort involving 18 co-authors and a large number of contributors. The paper presented a 650-page volume, accompanying database documenting how countries and territories were planning, implementing and completing social protection measures in the context of the pandemic.

The report said there had been an exponential growth in social protection measures between March 20, 2020 and May 14, 2021 and that a total of 3,333 social protection measures had been planned or implemented in 222 countries or territories.

Pakistan was ranked fourth globally in terms of the number of people covered, and third globally in terms of the percentage of population covered, amongst the countries that covered over 100 million people. The World Bank said: “Only select countries have attained impressive six-digit levels in this regard.” Pakistan’s Ehsaas Emergency Cash was one of them. According to the report, Pakistan’s Ehsaas was also ranked high amongst the programs that did well in terms of the planned versus actual coverage rates. Most of social protection measures were provided as social assistance. These represented 55 per cent of global programs and were the predominant form of support in most regions.

Among social assistance measures, cash transfers remained the premier instrument. A total of 734 cash-based measures have been planned or implemented in 186 countries. Highest level of spending in lower middle-income countries category was observed in Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, and Pakistan.