ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has directed the Finance Division to look into utilization of the Ehsaas Program and submit recommendations.

On October 28, 2022, the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety informed the forum that the Government of Pakistan established three different funds namely, the Covid-l9 Pandemic Relief Fund on March 30, 2020; Ehsaas Koi Bhoka Na Soye Fund (EKBNSF) and Ehsaas Donation Fund (EDF) on April, 15 2021. The Ministry noted that the amount of the donation received in these funds as of September 30, 2022 was about Rs.5.076 billion, Rs.102.954 million and 10.975 million, respectively. However, out of around Rs. 5.19 billion so far deposited in these funds, Rs.8 million had been reclaimed by donors due to inadvertent deposit as reported by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to Finance Division and the Ministry. The figure remains indeterminable so far as new claims were being reported by the SBP.

It was stated that a high-level Policy Committee had been constituted to decide on the appropriate utilization, identification of the beneficiaries and parameters for their selection. The Policy Committee had met on November 16, 2020 to decide on the disbursement of funds relating to Covid-l9 Fund. According to the decision, Rs.4.87 billion was transferred to BISP for emergency cash payments. Resultantly, the balance amount in the said Fund was Rs.206 million.

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The Ministry of Alleviation and Social Safety submitted the following proposals for approval of the Prime Minister, in his capacity as Chairman of the Policy Committee: (i) Policy Committee may direct the State Bank of Pakistan to refund the inadvertently deposited funds to their respective account holders. The total amount to be reimbursed is Rs. 5.5 million for PM Covid-19 Fund, Rs. 500,700 for Ehsaas Donation Fund and Rs. 970,300 for Ehsaas Koi Bhooka Na Soye Fund.

Any fresh claims, may be reimbursed by Ministry of Finance through supplementary/technical supplementary Grant on recommendation of the State Bank of Pakistan; (ii) as for the remaining undisputed funds, since these remain unutilized till date and the mechanism of disbursement is not clear, it will be prudent to consider closing the Fund accounts after the allocation of the money contained for a particular purpose; (iii) the undisputed amount in the Ehsaas Koi Bhooka Na Soye Fund which amounts to Rs. 1 billion, may be allocated to Pakistan Bait-ul-Maal being the administering agency of the initiative;(iv) the undisputed amount of Rs. 10.4 million contained in Ehsaas Donation Fund and remaining balance of Rs. 200 million in PM Covid-19 Pandemic Relief Fund may be allocated to the PM Flood Relief Fund or as deemed appropriate by the Policy Committee.

After discussion on the proposal of Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety directed the Finance Division to look into the issue in a holistic manner and submit viable recommendation thereon.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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