ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Sunday announced that the process for payment of Rs144 billion under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme would commence on April 8, to support millions of people affected by the countrywide lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Overall the federal government will provide Rs12,000 assistance to 12 million families each, while Punjab and Sindh have decided to contribute funding for the assistance of additional 700,000 and 250,000 persons, respectively.
The government also observed that a number of people were not taking precautionary measures against the deadly virus, warning the masses that they should not take the disease lightly as it was continuously spreading and only lockdown could reduce the pace of new cases.
Sharing details of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar told a presser that district administrations had been allowed to compile a list of deserving people and send them to the federal government as many deserving people were still not on the list of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
Nearly 13m deserving families to be provided relief amid lockdown in wake of Covid-19
“Deserving people from all the four provinces, Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir will be entitled for the assistance. Quota has been allocated as per population without considering the National Finance Commission for it, because AJK and GB are not included in NFC. For this reason, 2017 census is being considered. Federal government will contribute Rs12 million assistance to the basket but the provinces can give funding if they want to include more people of their provinces in the basket. Punjab and Sindh have agreed to pay for additional 700,000 and 250,000 persons, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will also inform [Centre] about it soon,” she said.
Dr Nishtar said wealth profiling would also be included in the lists such as if candidates had vehicles, travelled abroad and what were their utility bills.
She said: “People can send their CNIC numbers at Ehsaas Emergency number 8171. Candidates have already started sending SMS and a message is sent to them that they are eligible or they should contact their district administrations.
“Whenever a CNIC is sent, it hits at as many as seven data basis as it is checked that if the CNIC is correct, it also hits the database of government servants. Federal and provincial government employees are not eligible for the cash relief. Currently, we have data of federal and provincial government servants so if at the moment PIA, Sui Gas or other ancillary department employees send data, they will not get the message that they are government servants but later we will get that information. As many as 800,000 persons have been excluded from the BISP and others have been included in the Kifalat programme,” she explained.
The PM’s aide said that only one assistance package would be given to each family. She made it clear the payment would be given to the male head of a family though any family member, including children, could apply for the assistance.
She added that Kifalat beneficiaries who were given Rs2,000 a month would be provided an additional Rs1,000.
About the mode of payment, Dr Nishtar said that each deserving family would be given Rs12,000 after their biometric verification through 18,065 sale points or retail shops of Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and Bank Al-Falah Ltd across the country.
Meanwhile, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar regretted that a number of people were not taking the precautionary measures with the result that the disease could spread quickly. He reiterated: “The pace of new cases can only be reduced by taking the precautionary measures. We have enhanced the capacity to test people and are aware that the poor have suffered the most due to lockdown.”
Mr Umar said Covid-19 could become a major challenge for the country’s healthcare system. The decision regarding lifting of the restrictions (lockdown) would be considered after April 14, he added.
According to latest reports, 3,118 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 45 deaths have been reported in Pakistan.
Of them, 1,380 cases were confirmed in Punjab, 881 in Sindh, 372 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 206 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 189 in Balochistan, 78 in Islamabad and 12 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Overall, 170 patients have fully recovered from the disease.
Fake call in circulation
According to a statement, there is fake audio call in circulation being attributed to Mr Umar, who is also focal person for national effort on Covid-19. The audio call, originally from a Lahore’s Bhatta Chowk resident, is fake.
In the call a mimic said the economic condition of people were becoming worst and a few dozen persons, who seemed to be labours, tried to attack on Hammad’s car. The person claimed that dozens of shops were being robbed and every person should carry weapon to avoid snatching.
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2020