ISLAMABAD: Since the prime minister’s announcement that stipend to be given to needy women had been enhanced by Rs2,000, over 3.2 million such women have withdrawn Rs14,000 each under the government’s Ehsaas Kafaalat programme.

A tranche of Rs71 billion has been disbursed in all tehsils of the country in order to increase the stipend from Rs12,000 to Rs14,000, which will benefit a total of 8m women, according to a statement by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar.

While addressing the nation, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced last month that stipend to be disbursed under the Ehsaas Kafaalat programme would be increased to Rs14,000 to better assist and aid the poorest families in the country.

Since the payments began last week, 41 per cent of the total beneficiaries had withdrawn the enhanced stipend from campsites, designated retail outlets and biometric ATMs of Habib Bank and Bank Alfalah. Each beneficiary is being paid Rs14,000, covering the period from January to June 2022.

A total of Rs71bn has been disbursed in tehsils for benefiting 8m women

Combined payment for six months is being made to the beneficiaries identified through the Ehsaas survey and registration desks.

An official statement said that Dr Nishtar held several meetings on Monday with the leadership of Habib Bank Limited, chief secretaries of the provinces and inspectors general of police.

Secretary Ismat Tahira and all directors general of Ehsaas were also present at the meetings together with the focal-persons from the provinces.

“Beneficiaries of the Kafaalat programme are the disadvantaged women with meagre or no means of income generation. We are fully striving to ensure that Kafaalat payments are made in the field with utmost ease and transparency,” said Dr Nishtar.

“We are taking stringent measures to ensure that the full amount of Rs14,000 goes into the hands of beneficiaries and fraudsters are dealt with zero tolerance. All officers and teams are constantly in the field to monitor payments,” she said.

A committee was constituted with representation from directors general of Ehsaas, officers of partner banks and focal-persons of provinces to review cash disbursements. The committee’s members will meet each day to review the pace of payments and tackle issues identified in the field.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2022

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