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ISLAMABAD: As much as Rs 157 billion has been distributed among almost 12.30 beneficiaries under six categories of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme after its budget has been increased to Rs 203 billion to financially reach out to nearly 17 million deserving beneficiaries.

Previously, the federal government had earmarked Rs 144 billion under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme to provide one-time financial cash assistance of Rs 12,000 each to 12 million beneficiaries whose livelihoods were adversely affected as a result of restrictive measures taken to stem the spread of coronavirus in Pakistan. These 12 million beneficiaries were divided into three categories. However, with the inclusion of categories III-A, IV and V, the funds and beneficiaries have been revised with Rs 203 billion to be distributed among 16.9 million beneficiaries under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

As of July 18, 2020, a total of Rs 157,205.68 million were distributed among 12,997,237 beneficiaries including Rs 56,524.64 million distributed among 4,603,400 beneficiaries under category-I, Rs 42,599.94 million among 3,549,995 beneficiaries under category-II, Rs 36,012.52 million among 3,001,043 beneficiaries under category-III, Rs 5,514.92 million among 459,577 beneficiaries under category-III A, Rs 13,430.34 million among 1,119,195 beneficiaries under category-IV and Rs 3,168.32 million distributed among 264,027 beneficiaries under category V, according to official data issued by Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety (PASS) Division.

The eligible persons for Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme have been identified from the most vulnerable groups in Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) identified through a combination of the existing socioeconomic registry maintained by Ehsaas, SMS (Short Messaging Service) registration and web-based registration with stringent verification processes.

The federal government says, the focus of this programme has been on the fastest possible delivery by leveraging existing digital capabilities particularly data analytics, biometrically enabled precision payments and data driven accountability.

Additionally, the federal government has also opened a range of assistance initiatives through Ehsaas Rashan Portal, Ehsaas Langar and Panagahs to empower welfare organisations to play a well-coordinated role with the government in responding to the Covid-19.

It merits mentioning here that 16.9 million beneficiaries of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme include 4.27 million beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme's-BISP's Kifaalat Programme. Till December 2019, the total number of BISP beneficiaries was 5.9 million out of which 820,165 beneficiaries were declared ineligible and removed from BISP's list which included 142,556 government employees including 2,543 gazetted officers (Grade 17 to 21). The remaining number of BISP beneficiaries after removal of 820,165 beneficiaries was 4.27 million. With the launch of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme that saw the addition of 7.73 million new beneficiaries as well as 4.27 million BISP beneficiaries, the total number of beneficiaries was recorded at 12 million. With addition of more 4.9 million beneficiaries, the total number of beneficiaries, till date, is 16.9 million.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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