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LAHORE: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar has said that registration of the Ehsaas Ration Programme would be completed by December.

“People can send an SMS to 8171 from a number registered in their name. In this programme, only one person from a family can be registered; if four people live separately in a house, they can get themselves registered individually. There is no registration fee for this programme,” she said while talking to the media during her visit to a general store here on Thursday. She was accompanied by Punjab Baitul Maal and Social Welfare Minister Syed Yawar Abbas Bukhari and District Commissioner Lahore Omar Sher Chatha.

She further disclosed that to take part in the programme the grocery stores will also be registered through their website for which an account in the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) is required. “After completion of the registration process, the people will be able to get a discount on essential food items, including oil, ghee, flour and pulses,” she added.

Dr Nishtar further said that there will be a signboard outside the shops (participating in the programme) and the buyers will have to show their identity cards as well as the mobile SMS,” she added. Earlier, the DC briefed the Special Assistant about the steps taken by the district administration regarding Ehsaas Ration Programme.

It may be mentioned that Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced the Ehsaas Ration Programme under which poor families with a monthly income of Rs31,000 or less can register with the programme. The families who will be considered eligible will be able to obtain items of daily use at subsidised rates from Utility Stores and retail stores.

During her visit to Lahore, the Special Assistant also called on Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar to discuss the Ehsaas Ration Programme. NBP President and CEO Arif Usmani, Senior EVP (Digital Banking) Muhammad Humayun Sajjad, provincial Minister Syed Yawar Abbas Bukhari, Planning and Development Board Chairman Abdullah Sumbal, and provincial secretaries were also present on the occasion.

Talking on the occasion, the CM termed the programme a flagship drive to provide subsidies to poverty-stricken families on essential items. “Karyana shops would be registered in the province for this programme, and the ministers, parliamentarians as well as administrative officials would be assigned to make this programme a success,” he added.

He extended full support for the success of the programme and announced to lead it in Punjab. “This initiative would provide genuine relief to the poor people.”

Dr Nishtar expressed the desire to open one-window centres in every tehsil and thanked the CM for the assistance provided by the Punjab government. Meanwhile, in connection with the programme, inflation and price control, Dr Nishtar and Punjab government’s spokesman Hasaan Khawar addressed a press conference.

The Special Assistant gave a detailed briefing on the modalities of the programme and added that they have developed a special mobile application for grocery stores and consumers.

While addressing the press, Punjab government’s spokesman Hasaan Khawar said that the global causes and reasons behind inflation cannot be ignored, adding that the government has set up DC counters in all districts to keep a check on the prices of essential commodities. “Price control magistrates in each district are taking steps to enforce and monitor government prices, and stern action is being taken against hoarders and illegal profiteers,” he added.

He further said that the Ehsaas Ration Programme, a collaborative endeavour of the federal and provincial governments, is a comprehensive public welfare-oriented programme, which has been initiated in accordance with present circumstances to provide relief and subsidy to the white-collar segment of the society.

“Under this programme, 20 billion families would be given a subsidy of Rs120 billion. A comprehensive strategy has been formulated to keep this system transparent in all respects. This programme will purely be a welfare scheme beyond any political interference,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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