Prime Minister Imran Khan will launch Ehsaas Kifalat programme on January 31, 2020 with enhanced cash transfer of Rs6,000 for 7 million poor women beneficiaries.

This was stated by Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), while speaking as chief guest at launch of Jaaz Digit 4G mobile on Thursday.

She said that the poor female would now be disbursed monthly cash transfer of Rs2,000 instead of quarterly disbursement under the Kifalat programme.

She added that Ehsaas programme is the government's flagship programme and is being implemented in coordination with private sector and 34 ministries across the country. She said that availability of cell phone now defines development, and digitalization is critical for the Ehsaas programme.

She added that under Ehsaas programme, the government aims at poverty alleviation through leveraging technology and promoting access of the vulnerable population to digital and financial inclusion.

Most of the digitally excluded segments are poor women, and initiatives like KaiOS (an operating system of Jaaz Digit 4G mobile), which makes further digital inclusion, can improve outcomes significantly, added Nishtar.

An official of BISP later told this correspondent that the government has decided to increase cash transfer through Ehsaas Kifalat programme under Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and number of beneficiary women was increased from existing 4.2 million to 7 million after the new system was put in place. He said that there was a challenge to reform the BISP cash transfer system which has been completed and there is a digital system in place to ensure transparency. Contracts have been signed with Habib Bank Limited and Bank Alflah. ATMs are being opened by the banks and Points of Sales (POS) are being increased.

They added that BISP has gone through a multi-pronged process of reforms no board meeting was held for 11 months in 2018 whereas between December 2018 and July 2019, four board meetings have been held.

He added that an autonomous internal audit department reports to the Board and for the first time, an accountability and integrity officer has been appointed in BISP. He further said that human resource hiring and deputations through an open competitive process has been made mandatory while detailed IT security policies are being put in place to ensure that BISP electronic database remains secure.

The speakers highlighted the importance of digitalization as way forward and essential for economic growth whereas globally countries are looking to sunset 2G and focus more on 4G technology, Pakistan has been unable to effectively align with this global trend due to regulatory policy challenges. This step by Jazz comes at the right time as the government pushes for an aggressive spectrum roadmap to propel digitalization.

The launched Jazz Digit 4G – ‘Pakistan ka Smartphone' – is at the most affordable price. It is offering a set of unique features and provides an opportunity to 90 million people to connect with the internet and be part of digitalization.

Senior official of the operator stated that Jazz Digit 4G has becomes the most affordable smart feature phone on the global market, at a down payment of just Rs1,800.

The customer is required to sign up for one year service with Jazz at an extremely affordable Rs300 per month which include 1,000 minutes talk time, 1000MB data, free SMS and free calling to doctors along with unlimited Facebook and WhatsApp for the first 3 months.

They added that digital inclusion is essential for economic growth but regretted that 80 million Pakistani do not have access to the internet because of affordability issue and launch of this phone provides solution to their problem.

The smartphone comes equipped with a Jazz Super 4G SIM that powers WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Voice, and Jazz TV as part of the 200 and more apps they can access at the KaiStore, since the device runs on KaiOS, the third largest mobile operating system worldwide. With a sophisticated front and back camera and flash, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Hotspot facility, this phone provides an almost all-inclusive feature set that any leading smartphone may have.

Jazz CEO Aamir Ibrahim stated, “We want 2020 to start with this new device setting the benchmark for a nationwide 4G revolution. Although, we have successfully tested 5G, our biggest challenge and opportunity is to take 2G customers to 4G and to offer good quality broadband to every Pakistani."

Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies, also spoke on the occasion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020