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ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has assured Dr Sania Nishar that the Finance Division would provide all possible funding for the second phase of Ehsaas progamme - Kafalat Programme, emergency cash assistance - after the exact requirement of funds was worked out by the social protection and poverty alleviation division.

"Finance Division will provide all possible help after the social protection and poverty alleviation Division works out the exact requirement of funds for the Kafalat Programme, emergency cash assistance and for paying bank service charges," he said, while chairing a meeting with Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SPAM) on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation (SP&PA), two days after the prime minister's instruction to start the second phase of Ehsaas programme.

The Prime Minister directed his adviser on finance and the special assistant on SP&PA during the cabinet meeting on Tuesday to start the second phase of Ehsaas programme.

On Thursday, the adviser held a meeting with Dr Sania Nishtar and discussed an update on the preparations of release of second tranche of Ehsaas Cash Assistance package in response to the Covid-19, and directed that an update should be provided to the Finance Division about the transparency standards and expenditure already made under round-1 of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Assistance Programme.

The SAPM briefed the adviser that during the first phase of the programme as response to the Covid-19 pandemic, an amount of Rs175 billion was disbursed by the BISP to 14.6 million beneficiaries at Rs12,000 as one time assistance during 2019-2020.

Now under the instructions of the prime minister, the second phase has to be started to provide additional cash relief to those who need it most urgently. The special assistant on SPPA briefed that there are 4.6 million regular beneficiaries of Kafalat programme, and one time Emergency Cash Assistance was provided to 11.6 million beneficiaries during the pandemic to look after their cash needs.

The special assistant said that for the second tranche a revised list of the Emergency Cash Assistance beneficiaries would soon be prepared (as the number might be reduced due to control in the spread of the disease and opening on businesses and markets), and all the necessary details will soon be shared with the Finance Division. The adviser appreciated the efforts of the Poverty Alleviation Division in looking after the poorest of the poor in the unexpected times.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020