ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday released his policy statement on the government’s programme Ehsas, saying it will turn Pakistan into a welfare state.
He said the programme’s premise was grounded in the importance of strengthening institutions, transparency and good governance.
“Ehsas is about the creation of a ‘welfare state’ by countering elite capture and leveraging 21st century tools — such as using data and technology to create precision safety nets; promoting financial inclusion and access to digital services; supporting the economic empowerment of women; focusing on the central role of human capital formation for poverty eradication, economic growth and sustainable development; and overcoming financial barriers to accessing health and post-secondary education,” the prime minister said.
“The programme is for the extreme poor, orphans, widows, the homeless, the disabled, those who risk medical impoverishment, for the jobless, for poor farmers, for labourers, for the sick and undernourished; for students from low-income backgrounds and for poor women and elderly citizens.”
This programme, he said, was also about lifting the areas where poverty was higher. The poverty reduction strategy of Ehsas is articulated in four pillars and it currently embodies 115 policy actions, which may be expanded as the process of consultations on the programme, further widens, he added.
Read: Ehsas: show me the money
It has been proposed to legally bind the government to provide food, shelter and basic social services to all the citizens
“The four pillars include addressing elite capture and making the government system work to create equality; safety nets for disadvantaged segments of the population; jobs and livelihoods; and human capital development.”
The programme has proposed to amend the Constitution to legally bind the government to provide food, shelter and basic social services to all the citizens.
He said Rs80 billion would be added to social protection spending in the 2019-20 budget and total incremental increase would be Rs120bn in the 2020-21 budget.
The prime minister said one-window social protection operation will be conducted to assist beneficiaries of social protection and to reduce duplication and abuse.
He said a need-based system in the framework of the new National Finance Commission Award will be introduced besides promoting poverty reduction and addressing inequalities, requires improving mechanisms that regulate allocation of financial resources and creating the right incentives to deliver on services for citizens.
Take a look: A move to reduce poverty
Mr Khan said a new policy introduced to guide the use of development expenditure by parliamentarians to promote transparency, independent oversight and accountability and guidelines on conflict-of-interest for state and government functionaries.
He said a share for those below a certain poverty line will be earmarked by allocating khokhas (kiosks), tea shops, newspaper stands, shoe polishing booths on government-owned land or in government-owned hospitals, parks, and railway stations.
He said registration of residents of slum and Kutchi Abadis to facilitate their transparent inclusion in the event of subsequent commercialisation of the area will also be done.
The prime minister said partnership with NGOs will also be done to upscale successful programmes for orphans, street children, seasonal migrants, transgender people, victims of child and bonded labour and daily-wage workers.
He said Ehsashomes will be constructed for 10,000 orphans, Panahgahsin several major cities, housing scheme for the poor (including landless farmers) through interest-free loans.
He said labour pension has been increased from Rs5,250 to Rs6,500 through the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution.
Mr Khan said human capital development was a significant contributor to the wealth of a nation. “It necessitates prioritising investments in early years — tackling malnutrition, preschool or early education, protecting children from harm; ensuring access to quality education, skills and jobs; long-term commitment to Universal Health Coverage, and measures for empowering women and girls.”
He said the government has also introduced 5+1 model of Desi chicken asset transfer for poverty alleviation and nutrition and a kitchen gardening initiative has also been taken to promote subsidised certified seed and seedlings through the entrepreneurial model to promote fruit and vegetable intake.
The prime minister said a policy has also been introduced to accelerate reform of public hospitals with an increase in their budgets.
He said Ehsas will provide a certain percentage of loans under the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme to support the solutions innovation challenge and prize funding policy.
He said Ehsasaccelerated foreign policy drive to review opportunities in neighboring countries, and other emerging opportunities in countries like Japan and Germany that have ageing populations and need human resources.
Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2019