LAHORE - Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar says Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program aims at providing cash relief on preferential basis to people who are directly affected by lockdown.

Speaking in Radio Pakistan Islamabad’s program Raabta on Monday, she said in addition to daily wagers lower-middle strata of the society are also badly impacted due to closure of their businesses and livelihoods. Referring to overwhelming response of the public, she said the program received 140 million SMSs, of which 55 million were unique. She said 5 million families have been given the cash assistance of 12,000 rupees each already. She said the rest will receive the notification in ten days’ time about their eligibility and further steps.

Explaining the criteria, Dr. Sania Nishtar said the programme is not aimed at those people who are receiving regular salary from any government or private job. She said income of a person is determined on transparent basis from data about them. For example, people owning motor cars and other valuable assets are not considered eligible for this financial assistance. She clarified that motorbike owners as well as passport holders are eligible to apply for this programme.

The Special Assistant said a new method is being devised for people whose finger prints are not matching due to injuries or other issues. Dr. Sania Nishtar said strict action is being taken against persons who are using the fingerprints of others to extract money.

Dr Sania Nishtar said all Pakistanis are eligible for this programme, including minorities. This programme does not discriminate against any minority of the country. She said second phase of the programme will continue for the next fortnight. She said the payments will be made in phases in order to discourage crowds of people at the payment centers.

Dr Sania Nishtar said Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate ration programme of Ehsaas this week. The ration will be distributed after careful scrutiny of eligible persons. She said the systems of NADRA and Ehsaas will be utilized to determine eligibility.

She said 12 million families would have received the cash assistance after completion of programme that is equivalent to more than 80 million people. Responding to live calls and SMS messages in the programme, Dr Sania Nishtar said it is important to understand that people who have nothing in assets will be given preference in the disbursement of cash. She appreciated the role of Radio Pakistan in carrying out the public service messages of Ehsaas program as well as disseminating information about it across the country through its broadcasts. Special Assistant in her message to people said Ehsaas Emergency Cash scheme followed transparency and merit.