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ISLAMABAD: The federal government, under Ehsaas Programme, has launched a countrywide door-to-door survey to compile data about the socioeconomic status of households across Pakistan while over Rs 171 billion, so far, have been distributed among more than 14 million beneficiaries under six categories of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

The official launch of the door-to-door survey took place in Malakand Division, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Saturday, according to Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety (PASS) Division. Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, inaugurated the roll-out of the survey through a live demonstration of a survey sampling, PASS Division said in a statement adding that the survey would be completed by December 31, 2020.

According to latest official figures, as of August 8, 2020, a total of Rs 171.04 billion were distributed among 14.14 million beneficiaries under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme. This includes Rs 56.76 billion distributed among 4.62 million beneficiaries under category-I, Rs 42.97 billion among 3.58 million beneficiaries under category-II, Rs 36.73 billion among 3.06 million beneficiaries under category-III, Rs 6.60 billion among 0.55 million beneficiaries under category-III A, Rs 13.79 billion among 1.14 million beneficiaries under category-IV and Rs 14.17 billion distributed among 1.18 million beneficiaries under category V, suggests the official data issued by PASS Division.

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 was revised with Rs 203 billion to be distributed among 16.9 million beneficiaries under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

Till last month, the federal government had approved a total of over Rs 173 billion for Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

It is expected that the remaining amount for this programme would be released soon.

The federal government says 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.

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

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020