By Shumaila Noreen
ISLAMABAD, Jan 09 (APP): Amidst international challenges of price hike and commodities shortage due to Covid-19, millions across the globe fell short of meeting their daily needs.
In order to mitigate sufferings of the masses, their respective governments have chalked out various plans to meet their ends.
Pakistan was also not an exception to this international phenomenon as the virus has badly hit the low income group in the country. But, the government was fully alive to this challenge and initiated numerous measures to make the poor live a dignified life.
Ehsaas Rashan Riayat program is one of the initiatives that has primarily launched for giving relief to the common people of the country. This timely intervention provides the much needed breathing space to masses against internationally induced price hikes of daily use items.
This newly launched first-ever targeted subsidy program by the present government is a part of its interventions to mitigate sufferings of the poor by giving subsidy on basic grocery items.
With its volume at Rs. 120 billion, the 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 initiative is also aimed at benefitting the government employees with less than Rs. 31,500 monthly income.
Different empowerment and assistance programs manifest seriousness of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf government to help the marginalized sections of the society and raising their living standards from time to time through digitally enabled poverty alleviation interventions.
“Poor people in the country are prime focus of our government. Like a number of other initiatives this is also a well thought out program,” said special assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, Dr. Sania Nishtar.
“The subsidy amount under the program would gradually be increased keeping in view the impact of inflation on the purchasing capacity of people,” she said.
Dr Sania said, it was important that this system is 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.
“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 program has been introduced in accordance with the pro-poor policies and vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to help mitigate poor’s sufferings.”
The program was 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 an official tweet, “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”.
This initiative is a step forward to enhance purchasing capacity of the people and introducing more digitized poverty alleviation measures in the country to avert the effects of inflation.
“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,” said Fauzia Iftikhar, a government employee.
“Including government employees in this initiative is a welcoming step. It will help low income government servants to meet their needs,” she added.
The Economic Coordination Committee has approved eight percent commission for the Kiryana retailers in accordance with the global best practices.
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.
They will also benefit from lucky draws every quarter and win cars, motorcycles, mobile phones and various other prizes depending on their performance. The retailers are required to have a bank account. Those not having accounts by now, shall be facilitated to open accounts in nearest NBP branches.
While the families having cell number issued on their Computerized National Identity Cards can register through 8171 to benefit from the program.
Currently, the Ehsaas Rashan portal (https://ehsaasrashan.pass.gov.pk/) is open to register Kiryana retailers of all scales countrywide. Ehsaas Rashan Riayat is being funded jointly by the federal and provincial governments of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.
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.
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 create awareness among the shopkeepers and the beneficiaries about this program.
Similarly, the Ehsaas and Capital Development Authority (CDA) will jointly run a capital wide Ehsaas Rashan Registration Drive.