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ISLAMABAD: The federal government is set to distribute Rs26 billion in the next two weeks as the ongoing distribution of Rs203 billion to almost 17 million deserving families would come to end on September 15, with the completion of Pakistan's largest cash distribution drive for the needy under the federal government's Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

As of Tuesday, Rs177.4 billion were distributed among almost 14.6 million beneficiaries under six categories of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme that started in April this year.

Earlier, the federal government had announced that the cash distribution under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme would end on August 31, 2020, but this date has been revised to September 15, 2020, keeping in view that some Rs26 billion are yet to be distributed, it was learnt.

Previously, the federal government had earmarked Rs144 billion under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme to provide one-time financial cash assistance of Rs12,000 each to 12 million beneficiaries whose livelihoods were adversely affected as a result of restrictive measures taken to stem the spread of the 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 Rs203 billion to be distributed among 16.9 million beneficiaries under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

According to data issued by the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety (PASS) Division, Rs56.9 billion have so far been distributed among 4.6 million beneficiaries under category-I of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, Rs43.2 billion among 3.6 million beneficiaries under category-II, Rs37.3 billion among 3.1 million beneficiaries under category-III, Rs6.9 billion among 5.7 million beneficiaries under category-III A, Rs14.1 billion among 1.1 million beneficiaries under category-IV and Rs18.9 billion distributed among 1.5 million beneficiaries under category V.

Although cash distribution under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme would be completed by September 15, yet the eligible people facing biometric verification as well as children or spouses of those eligible people who have been deceased would be allowed to receive cash after September 15, sources told Business Recorder.

The eligible people for the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme have been identified from the most vulnerable groups in Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) 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 organizations to play a well-coordinated role with the government in responding to COVID-19.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020