With more allocations, Ehsaas initiative to help ensure sustainable growth

Lahore: Jun 13 (APP): Under the modern welfare state concept, a state is like a mother for its citizens, which takes care of all their needs. And any government that reflects on the concept of a welfare state can be a true representative of the public.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government is the first government in the history of the country that has taken such measures which are reflective of a mother’s love and care for its children, and Ehsaas initiative stands atop the long list.

In the fiscal year 2021-22, the PTI federal government has increased allocations for the Ehsaas program from Rs210 billion to Rs260 billion, which is 24 percent higher than the previous year.

There is no denying the fact that the initiative is helping a great deal in ending poverty in the country by supporting the destitute strata and providing various relief packages through coordinated efforts, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The low-income strata of the country had been waiting for such relief incentives for the last 74 years, as they had always been deprived of basic needs of life: food, shelter, health and work facilities.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), in its recent report, compiled by the UN Labour Affairs experts, revealed that the global economic crisis, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is likely to contribute to global unemployment of more than 200 million people by 2022. The report revealed that women and youth laborers were the worst affected by the crisis.

However, the Pakistan government initiatives, especially for the low-income strata including the labor class, women and youth, have won praise across the world since the outbreak of the pandemic. Coming up to the expectations of such segments of society once again, the federal government also increased budgetary allocations for the Ehsaas program.

The federal budget 2021-22 was unveiled on June 11. A cursory look on it showed that the government’s focus was, once again, on the provision of jobs to the employed people, the uplift of the marginalized segments of the country, and ensuring sustainable economic growth through the provision of incentives to various sectors including industry, agriculture, and housing.

Through the Ehsaas survey, around four million poor households would be provided interest-free business and farm loans. These households would also be given loans to build their own houses, the budget document says.

Following the Ehsaas survey, Rs500,000 would be given to each urban household, as an interest-free business loan, and likewise Rs2 million would be provided for the construction of housing units. Also, the six-month installments of Rs 12,000 are being enhanced to Rs 13,000 under the Ehsaas Kafalat program.

Responding to the federal budget and government policies, trade and financial experts said the government was treading the right path to place the country on the road to progress ultimately. They hoped that inflation would remain below eight percent in the coming years.

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Mian Nasser Hyatt Magoon said that the federal budget offered the skill training opportunity for the youth, adding the budget was commendable as one person from every household would be made employable.

Skill development programs would be particular to the needs of all regions and areas of the country and its local industry, he said.

The business community leader said that incentives, introduced in the budget, would help uplift both the agriculture and industry sectors, which definitely would generate employment opportunities.

Mudassir Iqbal, a farming community representative in Lahore, told APP that for the first time in the country’s history individuals in the agriculture sector would be provided with interest-free loans of Rs 150,000, for every crop, and Rs 200,000 for farming equipment including leasing of tractors and related machinery.

Expressing his gratitude, Iqbal said that through the initiative, the vulnerable segments of society would be given health cards, and one member of each family would be imparted technical education and training.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr. Sania Nishtar told a post-budget news conference that the next phase of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme would commence in the upcoming week, which would benefit over 10 million people.

The government has also increased the scope of the Ehsaas Waseel-e-Taleem program from primary to higher secondary level, and the students would benefit more from the initiative now, Ms. Nishtar added.

Around 65,000 scholarships for students studying at the undergraduate level have been allocated for the next year, she said.

Noted educationist Prof Dr. Fakhar-ul-Haque Noori said that the enhancement of the six-month installment of 12,000 rupees to 13,000 rupees was a welcoming sign and would promote education at the grassroots level.

Keeping in view the on-lines classes and digital learning of students amid the prevailing situation, the federal cabinet did not approve the proposal to enhance charges on mobile phones, internet, SMS and phone calls, he appreciates.

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