- The report stated that Pakistan was also among the top 5 lower middle income countries by level of social protection spending.
World Bank has recognized Pakistan’s government Ehsaas Emergency Cash program among the top four social protection interventions globally in terms of number of people covered.
As per World Bank’s latest report titled Social Protection and Jobs Responses to COVID-19: A Real-Time Review of Country Measures, India’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) program with over 206 million individuals covered, is the largest Covid-related cash transfer scheme worldwide. Such program is followed by three cash transfer interventions all reaching over a hundred million people, namely the US first stimulus check (160 million), Japan’s one-off universal program reaching about (116.5), and Pakistan’s Ehsaas (100.9).
The report stated that Pakistan was also among the top 5 lower-middle-income countries by level of social protection spending. The highest level of spending in lower-middle-income countries is observed in Mongolia (8% of GDP), Zimbabwe (5%), Bolivia (3%), Pakistan (1.2%), and with a range of others spending 1% of GDP.
As per the report, Pakistan’s provincial governments also implemented supportive fiscal measures from the onset of the shock, including cash grants to low-income households, tax relief, and additional health spending (including a salary increase for healthcare workers).
The government of Punjab implemented a PKR 10 billion cash grants program. The government of Sindh's measures included a cash grant.
The Government of Pakistan allocated Rs. 203 Billion (USD 1.23bn) to deliver one-time emergency cash assistance to 15 million families at risk of extreme poverty. This represents nearly 109 million people. Each family receives Rs. 12,000 (USD 75) for immediate subsistence.
The Economic Coordination Committee approved Rs. 75 billion among 6.2 million daily-wage earners with cash assistance for the daily wagers working in the formal industrial sector and who had been laid off because of the COVID-19 outbreak. It was part of the PM’s Relief Package of Rs 200 billion.
As part of the supportive fiscal measures, the Government of Pakistan implemented additional health spending. The government of Sindh's measures included a cash grant and ration distribution program of PKR 1.5 billion for low-income households.
The report stated that a relief package worth PKR 1.2 trillion was announced by the federal government on March 24, which has been almost fully implemented. The economic package earmarked resources for accelerated procurement of wheat (PKR 280 billion), financial support to utility stores (PKR 50 billion), a reduction in regulated fuel prices (with a benefit for end-consumers estimated at PKR 70 billion), support for health and food supplies (PKR 15 billion), electricity bill payments relief (PKR 110 billion.
The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in April last year approved the deferment of monthly and quarterly fuel adjustments in the electricity bills for power consumers for the next three months (till June 2020) under the government relief package. 06 April 2020 Power Division has reportedly prepared power tariff freezing for three months aimed at minimizing the financial burden on the Coronavirus-hit consumers, estimated financial impact of which will be Rs 381 billion, stated the report.