ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday inaugurated the Sehat Insaf Card (SIC) scheme for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under which deserving families would be provided insurance cover of one million rupees.

Terming it a historic development, Mr Khan noted that KP would be the first province where every family would be given the health insurance facility.

At a separate ceremony, the prime minister instructed the banks to simplify the process to apply for house-building loan to facilitate the low and middle income groups across the country.

The premier said this after he was informed that commercial banks were ready to launch schemes to provide easy housing financing facilities to people.

The Sehat Insaf Card would entitle a beneficiary family to avail medical treatment of up to Rs1 million in government as well as private hospitals.

Says Punjab, Balochistan will be told to launch similar schemes; asks banks to simplify house building loan process

Under the first phase of the programme, around 40 per cent of KP families availed the health insurance facility. Considering the huge applause by the public on that occasion, the prime minister had directed the authorities to extend the scope of this facility across the province to make every deserving family beneficiary of this scheme.

Launching the scheme on Thursday, the prime minister said the pro-people measures like extension of health insurance facility to entire population of KP manifested that Pakistan was on the course to become an Islamic welfare state.

Later, addressing the agreement signing ceremony between the KP government and the State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC), the prime minister said any country taking the responsibility of its people would be called a civilized state.

Under the agreement, an annual health insurance cover of Rs1m each would be provided to around six million families of the province, enabling the entire 40m population to avail free medical treatment at over 250 public and private hospitals across the country.

The PM said the scheme lunched in KP would put pressure on other provinces to launch similar schemes. “I will ask the Punjab and Balochistan governments to launch similar schemes that will put pressure on the Sindh government to follow the suit,” he said.

KP Health Secretary Syed Imtiaz Hussain Shah and SLIC Chairman Dr Riaz Ahmed Memon signed the agreement while the prime minister along with KP Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan witnessed the ceremony.

Federal ministers Pervaiz Khattak, Asad Umar, Ali Amin Gandapur and Murad Saeed and Special Assistant to the PM retd Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, provincial ministers and senior officials attended the ceremony.

The prime minister congratulated the KP government for taking the remarkable initiative and said no service could match supporting a poor family having a member with a serious disease. “The illness is among the top factors to push a stable family down below the poverty line,” he added.

Recalling his difficult experience of getting treated her cancer patient mother, Mr Khan said the launch of Sehat Insaf Card for the entire population of the province by the KP government amid financial constraints due to the Covid-19 pandemic was laudable.

He said besides benefiting the people, the massive health insurance cover would also beget competitive environment to help improve service delivery at public and private hospitals.

House building loan

Earlier, Prime Minister Khan chaired a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Construction and Development where he was informed that banks were ready to provide housing financing to the people.

“The heads of different banks assured the prime minister of early launch of their house building products (schemes),” said a press release issued by PM Office.

Addressing the meeting, the prime minister said: “The government has addressed all reservations of the banks and the State Bank of Pakistan has been empowered for timely disbursement of the subsidy to commercial banks on house building loans as announced by the government.”

He said the issue of foreclosure laws (which was main hurdle in housing financing by banks) was also being pursued effectively.

The meeting was attended by Information Minister Shibli Faraz, special assistants to the PM Malik Amin Aslam, retd Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari and Dr Shahbaz Gill, State Bank Governor Dr Raza Baqir and Naya Pakistan Housing Authority Chairman retd Lt-Gen Anwar Ali Haider.

Presidents of all major banks and representatives of the Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) also attended the weekly meeting.

Prime Minister Khan expressed satisfaction over the vibrant role being played by banks and said the construction industry could guarantee a strong economy. “Banks would also get numerous business opportunities consequent to the uplift of construction sector,” he added.

The president of the Pakistan Banks Association said effective policies and facilitation process for the banks had encouraged the private sector. “All the banks are resolved to play their role to help provide housing facility to the low and middle income people,” he added.

The presidents of the Bank of Punjab and the Bank Al Falah briefed the prime minister about the products launched by their organisations under the housing programme.

Meanwhile, Adviser to the PM on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan called on the prime minister and presented the third year parliamentary calendar to him.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2020