Print Print 2022-03-15

Rs8.2bn Ramazan package: ECC urged to widen scope

  • Ministry of Industries and Production approach Economic Coordination Committee to make Rs 8.2 billion Ramazan Relief Package 2022 available across the board
Published March 15, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Industries and Production (MoI&P) has approached the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to make Rs 8.2 billion Ramazan Relief Package 2022 available across the board, instead of only for Ehsaas Raashan Riyat Program, official sources told Business Recorder.

Every year since 1991, the Government of Pakistan has been launching Ramazan relief package through Utility Stores Corporation (USC) network. The Government had budgeted Rs 6 billion for Ramazan package for 2021-22.

According to the summary to be considered by the ECC on Tuesday (today), the MoI&P said that in line with tradition and in cognizance of the inflation that impacts on the general populace, the ECC approved Rs 8.2 billion Ramazan Relief Package on March 7, 2022 on the condition that only Ehsaas beneficiaries will be entitled to avail this subsidy at the USC outlets.

The subsidy involved in the Ramazan package 2022, as calculated by the USC is as follows: (i) Atta-Rs 2.543 billion; (ii) sugar-Rs 750 million; (iii) Ghee - Rs 4.050 billion; (iv) cooking oil-Rs 300 million; (v) Dall Channa- Rs 30 million; (vi) Dall Moong (washed) Rs 10 million; (vii) Dall Mash (washed) Rs 5 million; (viii) Dall Masoor- Rs 30 million; (ix) white gram- Rs 50 million; (x) basin (Chakki)- Rs 50 million; (xi) dates- Rs 20 million; (xii) rice Basmati-Rs 25 million; (xiii) Rice Sella- Rs 10 million; (xiv) broken rice-Rs 36 million; (xv)squashes & syrups (1500 ml bottle) Rs 15 million; (xvi) squashes & syrups (800 ml bottle) Rs 40 million; (xvi) black tea- Rs 125 million; (xviii) Milk (UHT)-Rs 50 million; and (xix) spices Rs 50 million.

Ramazan: wheat flour, ghee, sugar get the lion’s share of Rs8.28bn subsidy

According to the MoI&P, the goal of Ehsaas Raashan Riyat Program is to provide targeted subsidy to 20 million households. So far, approximately 18 million registrations have been received and out of these, 2.5 million beneficiaries have been verified and deemed eligible, which is approximately 13% of the targeted segment.

If the Ramazan Relief Package-2022, to be launched by the USC, is restricted to only the Ehsaas beneficiaries, only a small fraction of the deserving segment will be able to avail subsidy in Ramazan, sources stated.

The MoI&P argues that the targeted subsidy through Ehsaas Raashan Riyat Program involves a sophisticated mechanism of identification and verification of beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are enrolled after a thorough process involving verification of their socio-economic status and linking them with a registered mobile number in their name. While this is a time-consuming process, the outcome would be that a cohort of beneficiaries could avail subsidy in a secure and reliable way.

The Ministry further contends that given the paucity of time, any alternate mechanism, without proof of concept and extensive field testing, appears to be risky. However, the USC is exploring options with NADRA and Ehsaas to find a practical alternative.

Lastly, under the Prime Minister’s Relief Package, ECC of the Cabinet has already approved untargeted subsidy up till March 31, 2022. Making the transition from universal to targeted subsidy with a small number of verified beneficiaries just before Ramazan is bound to cause resentment amongst people and this would also significantly limit the impact of the Ramazan Relief Package-2022.

Keeping in view situation, the USC has submitted following proposals for approval of the ECC of the Cabinet: (i) Ramzan Relief Package-2022, involving subsidy of Rs.8.2 billion, may be approved for the whole population of the country rather than only 20 million households registered under Ehsaas Raashan Riyat Program; (ii) Ramazan is expected to begin on April 3, 2022.

Therefore, the implementation date for the Ramazan Relief Package 2022 may be approved from 1 of April, 2022 up till last day of Ramazan; and (iii) Finance Division may be directed to release the full amount of projected subsidy for timely purchases and necessary arrangements to ensure availability of these items at USC outlets.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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