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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Sania Nishtar, on Saturday said 80,000 interest-free loans would be given countrywide every month under the National Poverty Graduation Strategy programme to enable the low-income persons to start their own businesses.
While talking to the media about National Poverty Graduation Strategy under Ehsaas Programme at a press conference, Dr Sania said that the interest-free loans would be disbursed in the next four years. As per policy, 50 percent interest-free loans would be disbursed among the females.
Dr Sania said Rs 42.65 billion have been allocated for the National Poverty Graduation Strategy programme; however, 16.2 million people would get benefit from it and 80,000 people would be provided interest-free loans every month, she added.
She said the programme would consist of three components, including interest-free loans, skill training and transfer of small assets such as sewing machines, livestock and agricultural equipment to bring the marginalised sector into the mainstream.
The Ministry of Education and Professional Training would provide skills to the youth. It will be made sure that everything should be processed under fair and good governance.
She said over 391 cheque distribution ceremonies have already been held across the country where 86,151 interest-free loans worth Rs 3.02 billion were given out to the deserving persons. She said the programme is comprehensive and multidimensional with 115 policies under four pillars including, addressing elite capture and making the government system work to create equality, safety nets for disadvantaged segments of the population, jobs and livelihoods and human capital development.
With the creation of Ministry of Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Coordination, she said, all the departments including Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal, Zakaat, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and Trust for Voluntary Organisations would work under the umbrella of a ministry to address the issues in an efficient way.
Moreover, 28 federal government departments were interlinked with one other to make it one-window social protection operation, to assist beneficiaries of social protection, besides reducing duplication, she maintained.
Nishtar said a new policy is being formulated to guide the use of development expenditure by parliamentarians to promote transparency, independent oversight and accountability.
She further said that the government is committed to making the lives of the people easier by initiating programmes which would pull them out of abject poverty. She also revealed that the programme is going to be presented in front of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in an upcoming meeting where a briefing upon the undertaking would be given to the attendees.
She also announced that the programme would become functional within a month in all the provinces of the country.
The government's anti-poverty programme would be different from the previous programmes, which had been marred by corruption and nepotism; however, the government would ensure maximum transparency in its programme that is more integrated and synergised, she continued.
The initiative would be executed by BISP and 40 partnering non-governmental organisations, including the Rural Support Programme and Akhuwat.
She said on July 15, the government would give a briefing on Ehsaas programme which would be first of its kind not only within the country but also throughout the world.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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