By Shumaila Noreen
ISLAMABAD, Jan 4 (APP):Empowering the weaker segments of society and improving their living standards through introducing time to time digitally enabled poverty alleviation interventions is at the core of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) led government policies.
The multi-faceted initiatives being executed under the umbrella of Ehsaas including Kafalat, Nashonuma, Education Stipends, Tahafuz, Amdan, Interest Free Loans, Emergency Cash and Undergraduate Scholarships are largely contributing to the well being of disadvantaged populations across the country through addressing their basic needs.
However, the newly launched first-ever targeted subsidy initiative of Ehsaas Rashan Riayat by the present government is another milestone to provide relief to the inflation stricken people by giving them subsidy on basic grocery items.
The Rs. 120 billion program will serve 20 million families with income below Rs. 50,000 by providing Rs. 1000 subsidy per family on the purchase of flour, pulses and cooking oil or ghee through a network of Ehsaas Rashan enabled Kiryana stores across the country.
The Ehsaas Rashan Riayat program is the first-ever initiative which is not only targeting the general public but also government employees having less than Rs. 31,500 monthly income.
“Providing subsidy on basic grocery items through Ehsaas Rashan Riayat is a direly needed initiative at this time when the price hike situation has reduced our purchasing power. Including government employees in such initiatives is a welcoming step”, Fauzia Iftikhar, a government employee said.
According to an official tweet issued on Tuesday, “Ehsaas Rashan Riayat retailer enrollment witnessed an increase from 300 to 3000 per week since Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Chief Secretaries have started collaborating with Ehsaas. National Bank of Pakistan will now accelerate verification and bank account opening”.
The program was introduced in accordance with the pro-poor policies and vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to help mitigate the sufferings of the people due to the recent wave food inflation, driven largely by rising prices in the international market.
This initiative will pave the way for introducing more digitized poverty alleviation measures in the country to avert the effects of inflation which has not only affected any single country but the whole world.
The program has been approved by the federal cabinet following all the rules and regulations and is being executed in partnership with National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in transparent manner.
According to the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, Dr. Sania Nishtar, the subsidy amount being given under the program would be gradually increased keeping in view the impact of inflation on the purchasing capacity of the common people.
“For now it was important that this system shall run on massive scale hopefully with its acceptability among the masses; the amount of subsidy or the quantity of the commodities can be increased through a single policy decision” Dr. Sania said.
“Once the buyers and the Kiryana store merchants are registered for this program on a large scale; the program will prove to be a success. More avenues will also be explored to benefit the masses,” she continued.
“Those criticizing this program must understand that the system was developed on fast track basis in the shortest time span for immediate relief to suffering poor,” she said.
The Economic Coordination Committee has approved eight percent commission for the Kiryana retailers which is in accordance with the global best practices and will encourage help the government disburse subsidy under Rashan Riayat program.
The Ehsaas Rashan Commission will enable Kiryana retailers to shift from cash-based transactions to electronic dealings, open their bank accounts, install small internet enabled devices and compensate for additional time spent on processing.
The Kiryana retailers will also benefit from lucky draws every quarter and win cars, motorcycles, mobile phones and various other prizes depending on their performance.
The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) is the executing partner of the government for Ehsaas Rashan Riayat programme.
Currently, the Ehsaas Rashan portal (https://ehsaasrashan.pass.gov.pk/) is open to register Kiryana retailers of all scales countrywide.
The Kiryana retailers are required to have a bank account while those without bank accounts are being facilitated to open their bank accounts in the nearest branches of NBP while the families having Cell number issued on their CNIC can register through 8171 to avail the grocery items on subsidized rates.
Once registered, the Kiryana stores will also be physically verified and they will go through all checks mandated by State Bank of Pakistan.
After they clear the authentication process, the Kiryana merchants will be authorized to disburse the subsidy to eligible families through the mobile ‘Point of Sale’ App in their cell phones.
Ehsaas Rashan Riayat has been introduced in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of mitigating impacts of poverty and is funded jointly by the federal and provincial governments of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.
For education of the deserving families, Dr. Sania Nishtar has released an informational video on the Ehsaas Rashan Riayat program and visited 30 cities to aware shopkeepers and the beneficiaries about this program.