PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Tuesday announced Rs25.9 billion Insaf Food Card programme for five million residents after its withdrawal from the federal government’s food subsidy Ehsaas Rashan Programme in protest over its renaming and inclusion of undeserving beneficiaries.

The announcement came after a decision by the provincial cabinet, which met here with Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in the chair and cabinet members and administrative secretaries in attendance.

Spokesman for the provincial government Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif told reporters afterwards that the cabinet approved the launching of the Insaf Food Card in the province for the provision of Rs2,100 to every deserving household every month.

“A huge sum of Rs25.92 billion will be spent on this scheme to the benefit of five million people across the province,” he said.

Cabinet okays plan to increase wheat procurement

The spokesman said deserving persons would be selected for the initiative using the already available authentic data of Ehsaas Programme.

Provincial finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra wrote a letter to his federal counterpart Miftah Ismail to convey his government’s decision on withdrawal from the federal Ehsaas Rashan Programme.

Mr Jhagra said the provincial cabinet had discussed the issue on April 27 with participants expressing concerns and disappointment at the ‘unfortunate decision of the federal government to politicise an outstanding programme by reverting its name to the Benazir Income Support Programme and by announcing its intent to open a door to undeserving beneficiaries that had been removed on the basis of the transparent eligibility criteria to access the programme again’.

“As a result, the provincial cabinet unanimously decided to withdraw from the Ehsaas Rashan Programme at once. We intend to instead provide such a facility through our own resources and will invest our available financing there,” he said.

For the launch of its food subsidy scheme, the provincial decided to sign an agreement with the Bank of Khyber.

Under the agreement, the Insaf Food Cards will be issued like ATM cards. They will be effective in the next financial year.

In the meeting, the cabinet also approved the plan to increase the quantity of wheat procurement from 1.2 million metric tons to 1.4 million metric tons to ensure its smooth supply to flour mills in the province.

The spokesman said the province was open to all options for wheat procurement from Punjab to the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation to the Trading Corporation of Pakistan to ensure the availability of flour to the residents.

He added that the province had sufficient resources to fulfil its flour needs.

The cabinet also approved the leasing of the auqaf department’s land measuring 268 kanals and 10 marlas in Abbottabad

to the sports department to establish a sports complex.

It gave go-ahead to a plan for the solarisation of 7,000 mosques in the province. Of the mosques, 5,000 are located in settled districts and 2,000 in tribal districts.

The cabinet accorded approval to the KP Regularisation of Services of Employees of Settlement Operations and Revenue Academy Bill, 2022.

The spokesman said Commissioner of Hazara division Mutahir Zeb had been nominated as the member/board director for the Pakistan Professional Boxing League to promote boxing and sportsmanship in the country.

He said the cabinet approved the extension in the memorandum of understanding signed between the planning and development department and 11 Corps of the Pakistan Army until June 2023 to complete the schemes initiated under the Permanent Reconstruction Project to rehabilitate the internally displaced persons in the erstwhile Fata, complete work on roads, bridges, educational complexes, school labs and medical centres, provide equipment, and rehabilitate medical facilities.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2022

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