Ehsaas Initiative Reflective of PM’s Vision on Socioeconomic Relief and Human Rights

Dr Saeed Ahmed Ali

ISLAMABAD, Sep 2 (APP): Renowned Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” South African revolutionary leader Nelson Mandela said, “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”

As per Asian Development Bank (ADB) statistics, a total of 24.3 percent of the population of Pakistan lives below the poverty line, while 3.9 percent of the employed class has purchasing capacity up
to US $ 1.90. The World Bank in its published-research findings has observed that the lockdown and restrictions amid COVID19 have severely affected low-income households in a country,

A new report of World Economic Situation and Prospects mid-2020, which the United Nation’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs on the world economic situation has released recently shows that global economic losses amid COVID19 would likely cause an estimated 34.3 million additional people to fall below the extreme poverty line in 2020.

Combating the on-going economic impact due to the spread of the coronavirus, the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is playing an impressive and responsible role for the well being of the marginalised and destitute strata of the country. To mitigate the pandemic’s socioeconomic damages, the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government has initiated an unprecedented Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme which is the largest social-protection programme in the ruling history of the country.

Talking to APP, Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) president Mian Anjum Nisar said that Ehsas Emergency Cash programme was a people-friendly relief initiative, adding that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan would steer the country out of the economic gloom. He said that it was for the first time that such a massive programme was providing relief to the destitute strata in Pakistan, in every walk of life.

Here are some salient features of the ‘Ehsaas Programme’ under which the respectable living and socio economic condition of the poor strata in the country is being improved.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on January 31, 2020 launched the innovative new Kafalat Programme, which is providing PKR 2,000 monthly cash payments to 7 million of the poorest women in the country. Following the vast objectives of this programme, a new Ministry for Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation has been established which would work on the coordination of the Ehsaas Programme’s implementation throughout Pakistan.

Similarly, under the ‘Ehsaas Tahafuz programme’ , the government has announced that nearly 5.7 million women would be given savings accounts and mobile phones to make them able to access their bank accounts.

“This will be the most transparent way to give them their money”, Ministry for Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation sources told APP, adding that the cash transfers to the women will be
increased from Rs5,000 to Rs5,500.

Another document of the ‘Programme’ revealed that a “movement” for children who are forced to work under bonded labour, will be started and daily wage workers would also be facilitated through the Tahafuz programme. Under this programme, Bait-ul-Maal would be funded to build homes for 10,000 orphan children in the next four years, and to address the nutrition problems of minors, a “multi-sectoral nutrition coordination body” has also been constituted.

“This will be the most transparent way to give them their money”, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said during the launch of this programme, adding that the cash transfers to the women would be increased from Rs5,000 to Rs5,500. A new identification, ‘Ehsaas Kafaalat Card’, has also been issued which bears only the picture of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

In this connection the provision in its current form (Ehsaas Programme) is only a policy recommendation, the premier noted, saying that the government would shortly bring an amendment in the Constitution to make it a “fundamental right”, so the state could guarantee five things under Article 38(D) of the Constitution, ensuring people of Pakistan with food, shelter, clothing, education and taking care of their health.

The Ehsaas Programme document reveals that under the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the money spent on underprivileged segments of society was increased to Rs120 billion during 2020.

Additionally, a “movement” for children forced to work under bonded labour would be started and daily wage workers would also be facilitated through the Tahafuz programme. Moreover street children would be assisted through public-private partnerships as well as transgender persons who often suffer maltreatment in society, the sources in Ministry of Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation told APP.

They said that the Bait-ul-Maal would be funded to build homes for 10,000 orphan children in the next four years.

According to the vision of the Prime Minister, women in villages would be provided with goats, desi chicken and vegetable seeds so that they and their children could have access to milk, as
well as to ‘Desi’ chickens, they added. Additionally, the sources said that persons with disabilities would be given facilities such as special sticks, wheelchairs, crutches and whatever equipment they might require.

A document of the Ministry of Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation said that Ehsaas Programme would ensure the opening of 20 centres for differently-abled persons in underdeveloped districts.

Among other measures meant for the socio-economic uplift of the people, Rs5 billion has been allocated as interest-free loans for those who are too poor to build houses, it said. Likewise, with regard to pensioners, incentives would be increased through a biometric system to avoid corruption.

Additionally, Bait-ul-Maal will make five “Ehsaas Homes” for elderly folk, which will then be extended as funding comes in. Similarly students from remote and underdeveloped areas would be ensured with quality education and provision of internet services and mobile phones so that they can get benefit of e-learning, the ministry document reads. According to Ehsaas document statistics, a total of Rs 3 billion will be provided for higher education in underdeveloped districts of the country.

Meanwhile, support for overseas Pakistanis particularly labourers and the working class that resides abroad for work would be ensured with latest facilities, and all embassies in other countries would have community welfare attachés who would ensure, monitor and cater specifically to the needs of overseas Pakistanis, it adds.

The Ehsaas Programme has also developed a complete agriculture policy for farmers in villages,which will soon be shared with the public. For the protection of labourers working in the informal sector in villages, they will now be brought into the formal sector and their exploitation will be ended, the Ehsaas Programme document said. As part of the plan, it revealed that a total of Rs 50 billion have been placed in the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and the National Poverty Graduation Programme.

“No government has so far spent so much money on poverty alleviation”, the document said.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation, Sania Nishtar has said that Ehsaas programme was initiated soon after the lockdown began. It was delivering one-time cash grants totalling more than 1.2 billion U.S. dollars to more than 16.9 million households, covering around 109 million people, which is approximately 50 percent of the country’s total population. The marginalised families were receiving Rs12,000 to cover their immediate subsistence needs.

In her article published by China Global Television Network (CGTN) on  August 20, Sania Nishtar opined that prior to the delivery of Ehsaas cash, she saw an unspeakable financial condition and sufferings of the needy people from many walks of life.

“There were daily-wage labourers and hawkers, vendors, hotel and restaurant employees,domestic servants, watchmen, security guards, and drivers. There were also laid-off public-transport employees, fishermen, miners, beauticians, barbers, and millions of shopkeepers, who all stood on the verge of hunger, with their savings used up”, she writes.

“The new biometric payment system has been introduced, as the cash transfer has increased, inflation adjusted and the safety net Kafaalat now offers digital and financial inclusion opportunities since women will have bank accounts and better access to mobile phones”, Dr.Sania Nishtar added.

Stay tuned to Baaghi TV for latest news and updates!

FGEHA Requires Rs 6 to 7 billion to Clear Built-Up Property Dues in G14

Cynthia Ritchie ordered to leave Pakistan

DG Strategic Plans Division calls on FM