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ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar Sunday said that the second phase of Ehsaas Emergency Cash (EEC) Programme would be launched soon as it has been approved by Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet.

Presiding over an e-Kachehri along with other senior officials of Ehsaas Programme, she said financial cash assistance of Rs12,000 would be provided to each of the four million additional households.

These additional households will be identified through the ongoing Ehsaas survey which is 91 per cent complete and scheduled to be fully completed by June 30, she said.

“The purpose of launching the second phase of EEC is to compensate affected households for unemployment caused by COVID-19 crises,” she said.

In the first phase of EEC, Rs 179 billion were distributed among 14.83 million beneficiaries with the provision of Rs 12000 to each beneficiary.

At the e-Kachehri, Nishtar said that Ehsaas registration desks were temporarily closed nationwide owing to the current wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who have received response from 8171 to go to registration desks will be able to register themselves in Ehsaas when desks reopen after June 30, she said.

Also, Ehsaas will introduce an appeal system in September 2021 for those households who are ineligible on 8171, she added.

During the e-Kachehri, the SAPM also listened to the issues and concerns of Ehsaas beneficiaries and assured them that their issues will be resolved “at the earliest.”

The callers at the e-Kachehri shared their Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) numbers and were instantly provided with their eligibility and payments statuses.

It worth a mention here that Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) has seen an increase of 25 per cent in its federal budget for upcoming financial year 2021-22 with the allocation of Rs 250 billion compared to Rs 200 billion allocated for BISP in the outgoing financial year 2020-21, revised at Rs 194 billion.

According to budgetary allocations’ details for upcoming fiscal year released by federal government Friday, no separate budget allocation has been shown for Ehsaas Programme, which the federal government claims is the largest social safety initiative in the history of Pakistan and BISP functions under the administrative ambit of Ehsaas Programme.

However, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin announced during his budget speech in National Assembly that Rs 250 billion were allocated for Ehsaas Programme in federal budget 2021-22.

But budget papers showed that Rs 250 billion were actually earmarked for BISP with no specified mention of federal budget for Ehsaas Programme for upcoming FY 2021-22. Additionally, there is no mention of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme budget in the relevant documents.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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