ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan will launch Ehsaas Qarz-i-Hasna Scheme and the Asset Transfer Scheme next month under umbrella of Ehsaas Programme.

This decision was taken on Monday during a briefing to the prime minister on Social Safety Nets and Poverty Alleviation (PASS) and on the status of implementation of Ehsaas Programme by special assistant Dr Sania Nishtar.

Under Qarz-i-Hasna Scheme, over 80,000 loans will be disbursed each month among youth and women enabling them to undertake their own business ventures and help their families extricate from poverty trap. These loans would be prioritised in the lagging and underdeveloped districts.

Appreciating the efficacy of the existing programme, the prime minister approved injection of an additional amount of five billion rupees to the existing fund so that the programme is launched in collaboration with the partners of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund.

Prime minister appreciated the progress in this regard. The prime minister also approved creation of the Ehsaas steering committee during the meeting. The committee will be headed by the prime minister himself. It was also decided during the meeting that a meeting of the implementers of Ehsaas programme at federal and provincial level will be convened soon to chalk out strategy. It will be essential for rolling-out and smooth implementation of Ehsaas Programme components which are responsibilities of ministries other than the division of poverty alleviation and social protection.

“We aim to turn Pakistan into a welfare state based on the model of Riyasat-e-Madina that takes full ownership of the needs of its poor and vulnerable,” the prime minister said. A briefing was given on the timeline of policy formulation. Details were also shared about plans to revitalise trust for voluntary organisations and to make its governance effective and transparent so that the organisation could be used to upscale successful models in the non-governmental sector.

A number of other projects including the plan to open 20 centres for differently-abled, opening of national centre for human nutrition, and setting up fora for non-governmental stakeholders, and diasporas were also discussed.

The prime minister was also briefed about governance reforms in safety nets institutions including BISP to ensure maximum transparency and efficiency.

Dr Sania Nishtar said that policies concerning various components of Ehsaas Programme would be presented before the Cabinet after June for its approval. She briefed the prime minister about the timelines to implement those projects and policies for which the division of poverty alleviation and social safety and its attached departments had responsibility.

The timeline of implementation of the Kifalat Programme and the manner in which financial and digital inclusion of women would be enabled by October this year. The transformative changes in the BISP cash transfer system are currently underway.

She also gave details about the demand-side shock-oriented safety net, Tahafuz, certain windows which were expected to be deployed by July 2019. In addition, details and timelines of the graduation and interest-free loans programme and the new solutions challenge policy for lagging districts were also discussed.

Dr Sania also briefed the prime minister about a nutrition initiative to address malnutrition in all its forms and the new socio-economic registry which is being executed by BISP. The Ehsaas undergraduate student scholarship initiative and plans are also in the pipeline to extend the education conditional cash transfers for lagging districts.

Dr Sania informed the prime minister that in order to protect and ensure social security net to workers in the informal sector, several weekly meetings of the labour expert working group had been held.

Ehsaas was a comprehensive and multifaceted programme with 115 policies under four pillars. These include making the government system work to create equality; safety nets for disadvantaged segments of the population; jobs and livelihoods; and human capital development. Ehsaas was an inter-sectoral programme to be implemented by 26 federal agencies, four provinces and special areas.