ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday launched the ‘Ehsaas Savings Wallets’ pilot initiative for seven million poorest of the poor women registered with the government as Kafaalat beneficiaries under its Ehsaas programme.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony, the prime minister said that most of the digitally and financially excluded segments in the country were destitute women. For the first time, the poorest women in Pakistan would have the option to save their stipends, he said.
“I believe savings can help families to climb out of poverty,” he said, adding, “access to saving accounts is often the first step towards broader financial inclusion.”
Citing the global best practices, he said: “By paying for emergency expenditures through savings, vulnerable families are also protected from falling further into the poverty trap.”
Says access to saving accounts is first step towards broader financial inclusion
Mr Khan also thanked Queen Máxima of the Netherlands for her support for the initiative of the Ehsaas Financial Inclusion Strategy when she visited Pakistan in November 2019 in her capacity as the UN secretary general’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development and Honorary Patron of the G20’s Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion.
The prime minister also visited an Ehsaas Kafaalat payment site here for the launch of the Ehsaas Savings Wallets (Ehsaas Bachat Accounts). On the site, the premier was given demonstration of Ehsaas Savings Wallets (ESWs). He also interacted with beneficiary women present at the site to get insights on the new Ehsaas initiative for financial inclusion of the disadvantaged families. He congratulated Ehsaas programme team for introducing Ehsaas Savings Wallets for seven million women.
Financial inclusion is a central goal of Ehsaas and key to unlocking the potential of millions of the most disadvantaged women in Pakistan.
Earlier, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr Sania Nishtar gave a detailed briefing on the Ehsaas programme and the saving wallets initiative.
“Coming under the umbrella of Ehsaas, the Bachat Account initiative will also focus on financial literacy of Kafaalat beneficiaries to ensure that women draw maximum benefits from this empowering initiative. The initiative will help the marginalised people to plan for everything from long-term goals to unexpected emergencies,” she said.
On this occasion, a special message sent by the UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, Queen Máxima, was read out by Mr Wouter Plomp, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Pakistan.
“Savings have multiple benefits for the poorest households. Financial inclusion matters because of its power to improve people’s lives. It is not an end in itself — rather, a means to create jobs, take part in an increasingly digital economy, protect oneself against sickness, drought or an accident. It also helps empower women and increases income and productivity. This is beneficial for individuals, families, communities and all of Pakistan. But more than a strategy, the need for its implementation is paramount. I am delighted to join the launch of the roll out of the Ehsaas Financial Inclusion Strategy,” the ambassador quoted Queen Máxima as saying.
Currently, Kafaalat beneficiaries are getting their cash grants through the Limited Mandate Accounts (LMA) after biometric verification. The saving wallets will be linked to existing LMA accounts of Kafaalat recipients, providing them the option to save money and even purchase goods through the wallets.
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2021