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ISLAMABAD: A special meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved Rs106.102 billion for launching Ehsaas Targeted Commodity Subsidy Programme (ETCSP).

The programme would be for a period of six months – from 1st January 2022 to June 2022 to provide some relief to the people against spike in food inflation in the country.

A special meeting of the ECC presided over by Omar Ayub Khan, Minister for Economic Affairs Division discussed the summary namely, launch of the ETCSP presented by Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division.

The total amount of this programme is Rs106.102 billion for the period of 1st January to 30th June, 2022, which includes subsidy for beneficiaries, incentive for Kiryana stores, SMS charges for telecom operators, verification charges to Pakistan Mobile Numbers Portability Database and NADRA, mobilisation charges, NBP costs, and other operational expenditures.

The ECC was informed that in pursuance of the Cabinet Decision, extensive efforts have been undertaken including field visits, market surveys, and meetings with local shop owners/Tajir Associations in dozens of cities across the country.

PM to announce budget for ‘Ehsaas Targeted Commodity Subsidies Programme’: Sania

In addition, wide-ranging consultations were also held with relevant provincial and federal stakeholders.

Resultantly, the programme design document has been amended to ensure compliance with the Cabinet’s decision and address the concerns of the stakeholders.

Further, Power Alleviation and Social Safety (PASS) Division and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) have also started mobilisation efforts for beneficiaries and merchants’ registration.

In order to implement this programme, the PASS Division will enter into memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for this purpose and will reimburse all relevant costs incurred by the NBP on a monthly basis subject to an independent audit and authorisation by the Programme Steering Committee.

The Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division will hire one of the top accounting firms as an external auditor to review all transactions (subsidy and vendor payments) processed on monthly basis. The three items covered under the programme are essential commodities with inelastic demand; therefore, adoption of local prices will be allowed for the disbursement of the fixed per unit subsidy.

According to the Kiryana Incentive Scheme, target Kiryana stores are located in communities with average monthly income of less than Rs30,000 per family.

Therefore, eight percent subsidy value as incentive for Kiryana Stores (Rs12 transactions, assuming average transaction value of Rs500) will be allowed. After due deliberations, the ECC of the Cabinet approved the summary of the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division for launching of the ETCSP.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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