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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, Dr Sania Nishtar Thursday said Rs69 billion had been distributed among 5.75 million deserving families under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme and effective steps were being taken to resolve the problems related to the cash distribution drive.

Addressing a press conference, Nishtar said that the federal government was taking steps on an urgent basis to provide respite and relief to the downtrodden segments of the society whose livelihood had been adversely affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus in Pakistan including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

Nishtar said that the NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) was working to resolve the issues related to the thumb impressions of some applicants as biometric verification through thumb impression was mandatory for the issuance of cash assistance under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

The launch of Ehsaas Rashan Portal to connect the deserving population with the donors from private sector is another step taken by the federal government to facilitate the masses, she said.

Led by Sania Nishtar, the distribution of Rs144 billion under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme has been ongoing countrywide since April 9.

In the first phase of this programme, 4.5 million women already registered under Kifaalat Programme were provided cash assistance of Rs12,000 each.

While the first phase of the cash distribution drive was only for women, in the second and final phase that started on April 16, some 7.5 million applicants, both men and women, declared eligible for the cash assistance, after their respective registration with national socioeconomic database through the government's designated Short Messaging Service (SMS), web portal and district administrations concerned with the assistance of the relevant union councils, are being provided the cash assistance of Rs12,000 each.

The federal cabinet recently earmarked Rs200 billion to financially support the downtrodden segments of the society adversely affected by lockdown measures taken to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Out of these funds, Rs144 billion are being spent to provide Rs12,000 each to 12 million families under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

Each family eligible for financial assistance under this programme would be provided at once Rs12,000 on the basis of four-monthly assistance of Rs3,000 per month.

Apart from Ehsaas Emergency Programme, the federal government, in collaboration with provincial governments in the Punjab and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have respectively launched Ehsaas Imdad Package Punjab and Insaf Imdad Programme Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to provide financial aid to the needy in the backdrop of the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020