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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved Rs48 billion for the second phase of Ehsaas programme to provide cash assistance to four million additional beneficiaries badly affected due to smart and micro lockdowns during the Covid-19.

The ECC meeting chaired by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin virtually considered revised, updated summary of the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, on Wednesday, for allocation of funds for launching the 2nd phase of Ehsaas Emergency Cash (EEC), which envisages increasing the number of regular Ehsaas Kafalat beneficiaries to eight million by June, 2021, through the ongoing National Socio-economic Registry Survey (NSER).

On May 21, the summary was deferred by the ECC with recommendations to evaluate whether the new NSER survey targets those sectors which were adversely affected due to smart and micro lockdowns during Covid-19, and present the updated proposal before the ECC. The underlying rationale, according to the Finance Ministry, was to provide targeted subsidies to support the most vulnerable segments of society during the third wave of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, the ECC was informed that all these beneficiaries will be provided a 6 monthly tranche (January-June 2021) of Rs12,000 per beneficiary under Ehsaas Kafalat. Four million additional beneficiaries will be identified through the ongoing NSER survey by using higher eligibility threshold, while the remaining below the poverty line.

These additional four million beneficiaries will also be provided a one-time emergency cash assistance of Rs12,000 per beneficiary to compensate for unemployment caused by Covid-19.

The disbursement process would be initiated within this financial year and the financial impact of providing assistance to these four million additional beneficiaries will be of Rs48 billion. A summary was moved by the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) for the payment of balance amount of Net Hydel Profits to the WAPDA through the Power Division/CPPA-G.

The ECC decided to form a Committee with members from the Power Division, WAPDA, and the Finance Division, to discuss the matter in detail and suggest a mechanism for payment of Net Hydel Projects in a timely manner without pressurising the national exchequer.

The ECC also approved the issuance of 12 different notifications for the implementation of Pakistan Single Window (PSW) Act, 2021.

The Implementation of the PSW Act 2021 will significantly reduce the paper work for importers and exporters, and will help boost the trade and economic activity by providing connectivity between different government organisations and with other regional and global windows. The ECC approved Technical Supplementary Grants (TGS) with; (i) Rs700 million for the Aviation Division for meeting the Employee Related Expenditure (ERE) of Airport Security Force; (ii) Rs288.893 million for the Cabinet Division for Repairs and Purchases of six Aviation Squadron; (iii) Rs3.906 billion for the Defence Division for meeting the shortfall of funds for meeting various operational expenses at Pakistan Navy Headquarters; (iv) Rs124.727 million for the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training for meeting the expenses of its various allied departments; (v) Rs819.406 million for the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication for the development expenditure of Special Communication Organization; (vi) Rs400 million for the Ministry of Interior for raising a Special Security Wing at the Kartarpur Corridor; (vii) Rs42.897 million to the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives for Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) for payment of pensions; and (viii) Rs806.585 million for the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for clearing the pension liabilities of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC).

The meeting was participated by the Minister for National Food Security and Research, Minister for EAD, Minister for Maritime Affairs, Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Finance and Revenue, SAPM on Energy, Advisor to Prime Minister on Austerity and Institutional Reforms, Governor State Bank of Pakistan, and Chairman BoI besides secretaries of various ministries and divisions.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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