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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday launched the first phase of payments to 4.3 million women beneficiaries under Ehsaas Kifaalat Programme. In this regard, the PM visited a Kifaalat payment site in the federal capital where payments would start for 4.3 million women beneficiaries in the first phase, an official press release said.

Each beneficiary will be paid Rs 12,000 covering the period July 2020 to December 2020. The six-month payment, which is Rs 72,000 per beneficiary, would be paid at once to the Kifaalat beneficiaries in phase I.

The PM has already given approval to increase this number to seven million women. Payments to additional beneficiaries will be made December 2020 onwards and the process will be completed in the current fiscal year, the statement added.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar briefed the PM about several measures that have been taken to improve the quality of payments and to ensure protection against cyber-attacks, the statement said.

During the visit, the PM was also shown the trial run of the operations of 'Ehsaas One Woman One Bank Account.'

From next year onwards, Ehsaas Kafaalat beneficiaries will have the option of either drawing their money or saving money into digital wallets. For the first time, the poorest women in Pakistan will have the option to save their payments, the press release said.

As part of an efficient digital system for Kafaalat, payments will also be possible at point of sales at retail points through machines which authenticate biometrically. "Alongside, in the interest of transparency and integrity, a number of innovative reforms have recently been introduced including device restrictions, new protocols for user authentication, systems based geo-tagging and fencing disbursement timing block, and system generated electronic printed receipts for fund withdrawal so that beneficiaries can see the exact amount of funds that have been transferred in their accounts, and are empowered," the statement said.

Further, aiming to protect the payment system and empower Kafaalat recipients, the partnering banks have been asked to make sure that the quality of biometric machines at retailer touch-points is in accordance with international standards, it added.

Other significant improvements to safeguard transparent flow of Kafaalat funds include retailers' trainings, complaints resolution mechanism, real time reporting of transactions and dashboards have been created for alerts and for information sharing about how and where the money is being disbursed, the press release said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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