Govt working on grand social safety plan: PM aide

Published July 15, 2021
In this file photo, Dr Sania Nishtar speaks to the media in Karachi. — APP/File
In this file photo, Dr Sania Nishtar speaks to the media in Karachi. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The government is working on a grand and comprehensive social protection programme under which as many as 288 welfare initiatives will be launched to eradicate poverty, uplift the lot of marginalised people and support vulnerable households.

“Ehsaas, the government’s social safety network, will operate these initiatives. The new projects will be initiated after the completion of Ehsaas survey which is currently advancing smoothly throughout the country and is likely to conclude by the end of this month,” said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar. She was addressing a conference ‘From Emergency to Recovery: Social Safety Nets Beyond the Covid-19 Crises’ organised by the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo through video link.

The high-level policy dialogue aimed to promote dialogue on the future of safety nets and social protection in Asia. It brought together policymakers who discussed the country’s experiences and lessons learned from a year of safety nets.

Dr Nishtar highlighted Pakistan’s commitment towards casting wider social safety nets.

Says 288 welfare initiatives to be launched to eradicate poverty

She said Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme, launched at the onset of Covid-19 pandemic last year, provided a one-time cash grant of Rs12,000 to 15 million families. The unconditional emergency cash transfer programme, Dr Nishtar said, bolstered more effective social protection operations countrywide, strengthened social safety nets, and protected almost half the country’s population from economic shocks and the potential adverse effects of the pandemic.

Ehsaas programme was praised for its effective outreach and transparent delivery mechanisms. The ADB showed interest in exploring what plans Pakistan had in place to address the need for social protection in the aftermath of Covid-19 and the policy towards unconditional versus conditional cash transfers.

“According to the World Bank’s report, with over 100 million individuals served, Pakistan ranked fourth globally in terms of the number of people covered”, Dr Nishtar said. Further, almost for a year after the launch of Ehsaas, an extensive effort was made to build the system of transparency, she added. Digital capabilities established under Ehsaas were adopted to deliver Ehsaas Emergency Cash. The system was end-to-end data-driven, fully automated, rule-based, transparent, and politically neutral and payments were biometrically verified, she told the conference.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2021

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