Subsidy amount under Ehsaas Rashan Programme to be increased gradually: Dr Sania
ISLAMABAD – The subsidy amount being given under the newly announced Ehsaas Rashan Programme would be gradually increased keeping in view the impact of inflation on the purchasing capacity of the common people.
This was stated by the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, Dr Sania Nishtar in an interview with media on Sunday. Dr Sania said: “For now it is important that this system shall run on massive scale in a transparent manner and create its acceptability for the masses; the amount of subsidy or the quantity of the commodities can be increased through a single policy decision.”
“Once the buyers and the Kiryana stores merchants will be mobilised and registered for this programme on a large scale, the success of this programme will be determined and more avenues will be explored to make it more beneficial for the masses,” she said. Those who were criticising should know first that the system was developed on fast track basis in a very short period to provide relief to the masses. “Increasing subsidy amount or quantity of items is quite an easier task,” she said. The SAPM revealed that the web portal to register beneficiaries under Ehsaas Rashan Programme will open from Monday (today). “The programme will enable buyers having monthly income less than Rs31,000 to buy flour, pulses and cooking oil or ghee on subsidised rates from the designated Kiryana or utility stores,” she said.
The Kiryana stores merchants having bank accounts would download app in their mobile phones through which they would ascertain the eligibility of the buyer, click on the icons of required commodities and pass on the subsidy. The buyer having registered mobile numbers with their Computerised National Identity Cards would be able to purchase the items on subsidised rates and receive a digital receipt.
Dr Sania said this programme would benefit 20 million families and overall 130 million people nationwide including those already registered under the Kafalat Program through providing subsidy of Rs1,000 per month. The subsidy of Rs120 billion would be provided to the seven million during the next six months. Dr Sania said there were 1,000,000 Kiryana stores in the country as per estimate and all were eligible to register with this programme, if having bank accounts. “The government will incentivise these merchants through giving them profit on subsidy amount to motivate them for serving more and more people,” she added. About ensuring quality of the commodities, Dr Sania said subsidy was being given on the flour, pulses and oil or ghee of every quality (brand) or price.
“It will be up to the customers which commodities they would buy, the subsidy amount of 30 percent will be implemented in any case,” she added. To a question about the expansion of Ehsaas Tahafuz initiative, Dr Sania said the pilot project of the programme being executed at Holy Family Hospital, Rawalpindi had served 600 patients so far. She said the programme was aimed at covering catastrophic health expenditures of the patients in those public hospitals lacking Sehat Sahulat Programme. “The programme would be upscaled to 16 hospitals nationwide during this calendar year. About the Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship Programme, Dr Sania said the portal for registration under this merit and need based programme would remain open till November 30; however, there was possibility of extending the date like last year.
Mentioning another important milestone, Dr Sania said around 5.7 million students had been enrolled under the Ehsaas Education Stipend Programme while the target was to enroll seven million children. She conveyed that an app was being launched soon to register and enroll more children under this program for which around 1,000 officials from education department had been hired besides Ehsaas team. Anyone finding a child not enrolled in school would be able to register his or her information on the app and the relevant department would become active for enrolling the child. About the National Socio Economic Registry (NSER) Survey, Dr Sania highlighted that the survey had been completed and gathered the socio-economic data of 32 million households (38 million families).
However, 507 registration desks were functional across the country to register those missing in the survey and also update the marital status of women. Responding to a question on fake messages and portals circulated on social media, Dr Sania said that a meeting in this regard it would be conducted with the officials of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other security departments next week. “We will ask the PTA to devise a mechanism for blockade of the fake content regarding Ehsaas in the way blasphemous and pornographic contents are blocked by the authority,” she said. To a question about the expansion of Ehsaas One Window Centre facility nationwide, Dr Sania said the discussions were underway with the provincial govts for provision of buildings for the centres. She said Ehsaas One Window Centres would be opened at each district across the country while a small version office would be set up at tehsil level. The SAPM told that the One Window Centre facility in federal capital had served 48,732 people since opened in June.