80,000 interest-free loans to be disbursed every month, says PM’s aide

Published July 7, 2019
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar announced the decision at a press conference on Saturday.  — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan/File
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar announced the decision at a press conference on Saturday. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan/File

ISLAMABAD: The government will disburse 80,000 interest-free loans every month under the National Poverty Graduation Initiative programme for a period of four years effective this month.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar announced the decision at a press conference on Saturday.

Explaining the salient features of the new initiative, she said the grant of interest-free loans to 2.28 million households would provide benefit to a total of 14.7m people.

She said that every month a new programme would be launched under the umbrella of Ehsas programme, and all programmes would be implemented with complete transparency.

Dr Nishtar, who is also chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), said a socioeconomic survey was currently under way, and on its completion, the poverty level could be estimated.

However, she said the first priority of the government was to ensure social protection.

The total outlay of the new initiative would be Rs42.65 billion, out of which the federal government had allocated Rs5bn from its resources, while Rs13bn would be available through International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and Rs23.35bn from the Asian Development Bank.

The initiative is part of the ‘Ehsas’ programme and aims to “graduate” the poorest households out of poverty and set them on a course of economic and social prosperity. The government, in addition to its own funding, is partnering with the IFAD and the Asian Development Bank to complete the initiative.

The IFAD in September 2017 approved the National Poverty Graduation Initiative Programme, which will be implemented up to 2023.

Under the ongoing programme, the IFAD is providing $149.8m to Pakistan to assist the poor in graduating out of poverty on a sustainable basis.

The initiative is being rolled out in over 100 districts and will impact 16.28m people with 50pc women.

The initiative also includes youth, persons with disabilities, transgender people, minorities and marginalised communities in less developed districts.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2019

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