Ehsaas Programme Initiatives: Social protection, safety for poorest segments of society

ISLAMABAD - Viable political reforms and pro-public policies through various poverty alleviation programs can create wide range possibilities for socio-economic growth of people by ensuring social protection and economic safety to marginalized segments of the society to live a dignified life.  
For facilitating the deserving families across the country to realise the dream of a true welfare state, the incumbent government has conceived a well-planned multi-pronged pro-poor Ehasaas umbrella programme in March 2019 as one of the flagship projects while targeting the most deserving segments of the society. The list of initiatives within the programme included interest-free loans, Ehsaas Kafalat programme, educational stipends, undergraduate scholarship programmes, nashonuma, amdan, survey, koi bhooka na soye, panahgah, langar and now Ehsaas Rashan initiative.   
The multifaceted Ehsaas programmes are aligned with the manifesto of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government as the initiatives have focused on the basic needs of the deserving people: health, nutrition, education, cash amount, and interest free loans for microenterprises and the recently launched ‘Ehsaas Rashan Programme of Targeted Commodity Subsidies’ through the Ehsaas national socioeconomic survey registry 2021. 
The programmes were primarily initiated to help the marginalised and ignored segments of the society. Therefore, the initiatives had ensured gender equality by giving special focus to women and girls in all the programmes besides orphans, widows, the homeless, the disabled, jobless, poor farmers, labourers, the undernourished; students from low-income backgrounds and elderly citizens.
In order to get benefited from the Ehsaas multi-variety initiatives and staying safe from corrupt elements, the government has launched Ehsaas digital for knowing the eligibility and procedure to apply for various programmes. The information is available on the web portal about different programs launched under the Ehsaas project. The portal provides all information about the different Ehsaas programmes at a single platform in the Urdu language.
The applicants can get the required information about the welfare projects through the portal: eligibility, payment mechanism, district-level offices and payment centre addresses and contact numbers for getting additional information and direct link to the web portal for resolving biometric and other issues. The transparent mechanism of the Ehsaas initiatives has lauded by the recently released edition of the UN Principles for Responsible Digital Payments 2021 report as international one of best practices. 
The Ehsaas programme has also emerged as one of the largest social protection programmes in the history of the country during the Covid-19 pandemic by financially supporting almost half of the country’s population. The Prime Minister has also approved the proposal of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division (PASSD) for the up-gradation of model Panagahs into centres of excellence under the Ehsaas to further improve the living standards of the Panagahs during the winter season.
According to the available data, the government has provided Rs179 billion Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme by providing a one-time cash grant of Rs12,000 to 15 million families (nearly 109 million people) at the risk of extreme poverty as the assistance for poverty alleviation and social safety. This year too, one million eligible families are being paid the Ehsaas cash through digitally-enabled payment system fully relied on the use of mobile phones and biometric verification.
In order to mitigate the effects of economic hardships caused due to global inflation and Covid-19, the Prime Minister has also announced one of the biggest welfare packages of 120 billion subsidy of Ehsaas Rashan programme in the history of the country last week for giving relief to the deserving families. This would enable the people to purchase ghee, wheat flour and pulses at 30% lower prices for the next six months. The Ehsaas Rashan programme would help facilitate 20 million families who were identified through the recently completed Ehsaas survey. Thus the subsidy program of the relief package would help more than 130 million people (53%) nationwide of the country’s total population. 
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Prof Dr Mehr Taj Roghani said that the government should re-evaluate the different initiatives under the Ehsaas programme for prioritising the relief initiatives only for the welfare of the people. She said, “The pumping of money to the system could boost the economy and bring down the prices of basic commodities.” She has also sought issuance of ration cards for the disadvantaged segments of the society while ensuring transparency in provision of the relief package to the poor. The programmes would only be considered compatible with the ground realities when the deserving people were made able to fully avail the benefits of the project, she added.  

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