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Some Rs 89.143 billion had been distributed among 7.307 million deserving families till Friday as the federal government launched the third and final phase of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

Alongside the third phase, payments to category-2 beneficiaries who entered the programme through 8171 SMS service are also underway, Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division said in a statement.

In the first phase of this programme, which ended on April 16, some 4,154,724 people already registered under Kifaalat Programme, were provided cash assistance.

In the second phase, four million persons registered through National Socioeconomic Database, at the government's designated Short Messaging Service (SMS) are being provided cash assistance.

In the third and last phase of the two-week drive, 3.5 million applicants registered through web portal and district administrations concerned with the assistance of the relevant union councils throughout the country, would be provided cash assistance.

According to the data recently shared by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar, the federal government received the requests from a total of 48,285,623 Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) for financial assistance under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, out of which 38,018,83 were found to be government employees and declared ineligible for the financial assistance, 2,659,199 were invalid CNICs, 4,154,724 are category-I beneficiaries, 4,000,000 CNICs are category-II beneficiaries and 33,669,817 CNICs are category-III beneficiaries whose CNICs are being sent to provinces for verification.

The registration for Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme closed on April 19. Since April 9, the distribution of Rs144 billion to provide cash assistance to the downtrodden segments of the society has been ongoing countrywide under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme to support those whose livelihood have been adversely affected with the outbreak of the coronavirus in Pakistan.

The federal cabinet recently earmarked Rs200 billion to financially support the deserving population affected by lockdown measures taken by the federal government 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.

The remaining Rs56 billion have been allocated as a standby arrangement to meet the financial expenditure in case the number of those in need of financial/humanitarian assistance exceeds the estimated number of 12 million families.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020