Ehsaas Programme to be implemented by engaging 45 govt agencies

Street vendors in Pakistan are estimated at over a million

ISLAMABAD         -       Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division Secretary, Shaista Sohail Thursday said that incumbent government has recently launched Ehsaas programme, which would be implemented by engaging more than 45 government agencies at federal, provincial and local levels.

For the implementation of 134 policy actions, Ehsaas program will be engaging more than 45 government agencies at federal, provincial and local levels, she said in a seminar for the launch of a Draft Legislative Bill for the protection of street vendors’ rights.  PRIME Institute, an economic think tank, in collaboration with Friedrich Naumann Foundation, had organized a seminar.

Shaista Sohail informed that the Ehsaas programme of the government is working on the same lines for the betterment of street vendors. She was of the view that this new legislation will take its course through the parliamentary process. However, administrative actions for betterment of street vendors can be undertaken early. These administrative measures can be given legal cover under the new law. She said that Ehsaas has launched Solution Challenge Program for engaging university students for the design of innovative solutions for poverty alleviation. Government will look forward to own this proposed bill and collaborate for its early passage from the parliament. It will create a better sense for the rule of law, which will work in benefit for poor as well as richer segments of the society.  

In his welcome address, PRIME Institute Director Zia Banday, did elaborate on the 9-months efforts undertaken for the preparation of this draft bill. The project team visited 5-cities to conduct consultations and awareness campaign among street vendors and related stakeholders. It organized street vendor assemblies and working group sessions for the purpose in these cities. He mentioned about non-existence of data on number of street vendors in the country. Based on proxies of similar dataset on street vendors in comparable economies, number of street vendors are estimated at over a million in Pakistan, which are approximately contributing around $2 billion to the economy.

Ahmed Bashir, the legal consultant and author of the draft bill, gave a detailed presentation on the rationale and structure of the bill. He did highlight the lacunas in existing legal framework for street vendors’ regulation, which lacks the intent on defining their rights and its protection. Purpose of the bill is not only to elaborate on the street vendors’ rights, but also to create wider civic participation for regulating vending.

The proposed bill envisaged establishment of Town Vending Committee, which will have representation from Municipality, Street Vendors and Civil Society. This Committee is a major departure from prevalent practices on regulating vending in Pakistan. It is meant to safeguard livelihood of street vendors and also to reduce public space usage problems, owing to street vendors, for the general public.   

Other speakers include Munzir Elahi, Hanan Abbasi and Shimail Daud from government and development sectors. They all lauded PRIME’s efforts. They suggested a robust advocacy campaign ahead for the outreach of the draft bill.

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