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ISLAMABAD: The Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division (PASSD) has reportedly identified 31,433 pensioners, government employees, high income individuals and autonomous agencie employees, who received payments from erstwhile Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

This information was shared with the federal cabinet at a recent meeting presided over by Prime Minister, Imran Khan.

The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar, made a status update presentation to the cabinet in relation to Ehsaas Survey and Ehsaas Kafaalat. She said the survey would be completed in the current fiscal year. Regarding Kafaalat payments, she said six month’s Kafaalat payments for July-December, 2020, were currently ongoing and would be made to seven million beneficiaries which were drawn from the 2011 and 2019 BISP Survey database. According to her, these constitute a subset of Ehsaas Emergency cash recipients and their criteria will be approved by the board. New eligible beneficiaries will be enrolled from January 2021 onwards based on the eligibility criteria determined by the new Ehsaas survey as approved by the BISP board.

"We have outlined that 31,433 pensioners, government employees, high income individuals (as evidenced by FBR records) and so far employees of 30 autonomous agencies have been identified in the former BISP lists and further analysis is ongoing," she said, adding that BISP has been facing difficulty in accessing information to enable data cleaning.

The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation also made a presentation on the status of utilization of the PM's Covid-19 Pandemic Relief Fund, saying that the fund had been utilized in Ehsaas Emergency Cash as per ECC and Cabinet approvals. A report outlining details was circulated to cabinet members and had been made public. She said that this has set a precedent in transparency in the use of donated funds.

During a discussion, the members lauded the efforts of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation and her team in executing the various components of Ehsaas programme with unprecedented transparency and fairness.

The members expressed dismay over the government employees who had unscrupulously benefited from the BISP programme, meant for marginalized segments of society. It was strongly urged that not only recovery should be made from the delinquents but they should also be dismissed from service.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis & HRD, Zulfi Bukhari highlighted the predicament of around 80,000 labourers who had returned after losing their overseas jobs due to the pandemic and suggested that these retuning labourers be financially supported through Ehsaas programme by granting a one-time exemption from the criteria.

The Cabinet took note of the presentations given by the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation and appreciated the efforts of the SAPM and her team in executing the Ehsaas programme in a transparent and efficient manner.

The Cabinet directed Poverty Alleviation & Social Safety Division to work out a mechanism for affording financial support to the laborers, who had returned home after losing their overseas jobs due to the pandemic, through the Ehsaas programme by granting a one-time exemption from the criteria.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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