ISLAMABAD, Jul 26 (APP): Senate Standing Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety in a meeting held here Tuesday recommended to take up the matter of halting the Ehsaas Ration Riayat Program with the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The meeting was held at the Parliament House under the chairmanship of Senator Naseebullah Bazai.
Speaking on the issue, Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar said that Ehsaas Ration Riayat Program targeted 12 million of the poorest people by working day and night who could be provided with subsidies for groceries and fuel.
The National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) survey was completed by holding day and night meetings, she said while asking the officials to inform the committee about its progress.
The committee was informed that the work was done on this scheme in the province of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but Khyber Pakhtunkhwa withdrew this scheme due to its name.
The chairman and members of committee expressed their concern and said that such matters that are meant to provide relief to poor should be carried out beyond political affiliation and all political parties should have the same policy and position regarding such matters Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan said that the work done by Dr. Sania Nishtar is praise worthy and this issue should be raised in the upper house meeting.
He recommended that the chairman committee must take up this issue with the chairman senate and and take forward the matter in consultation with the concerned minister and provincial government.
The chairman committee emphasized that this issue is related to the poor people and steps should be taken to make the lives of poor people easier during the prevailing inflation.
The chairman and the members of the committee expressed their anger over the late delivery of the working paper and directed that the working paper should be provided 48 hours before the next meeting as per the rules so that the members of the committee can review the issues.
Secretary, Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety and Secretary Benazir Income Support Program briefed the committee about the budget of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program, the distribution of cash amounts by province and district and the details of the future program.
The first phase of the Emergency Cash Program was conducted from April to September 2020, for which 16.9 million families were identified and a budget of 203 billion rupees was allocated for it.
An amount of Rs. 12,000 was provided per family. Rs. 180 billion were disbursed among 15 million families.
The committee was briefed that the assistance was provided to people after biometric verification from NADRA and for this relief operations were implemented in government buildings with the help of provincial governments and district administrations.
Two banks were engaged for payment purposes and a biometric device was also provided at the point of sale so that people could get assistance easily.
Four million people were targeted under the Emergency Cash Program Phase II, for which Rs. 48 billion were allocated. Under Phase II, Rs 31.75 billion were distributed to 2.53 million families. Those families with a PMT score of 29.01 to 37 were considered eligible.
This program was concluded in April 2022. The Standing Committee was told that due to the corona pandemic, the markets were closed and the people were having no source of income.
The members of the committee also raised the issue that the women were not getting full money through the agents, on which the secretary BISP informed the committee that the action was being taken in collaboration with the police and FIA and the money was also returned to the people.
He conveyed that the payment mechanism was transformed to digital one to bring transparency in the program and save the poor people from fraudulent activities.
The committee was also briefed that those who could not become part of the survey can register themselves through the offices established in NADRA.
The agenda regarding Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan was not discussed due to delay in issuance of working papers to the members.
Regarding Ruqiya Bibi’s public submission, the committee was told that she was given assistance, but as per the last survey, her PMT score was 42.51, according to which Ruqiya was not given further financial assistance, but she was given financial assistance of Rs. 7,000 under Wasila Education Program.
Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar said that a detailed briefing should be provided in the next meeting regarding the distribution of assistance for scholarships to students in universities.
Senators Seemi Ezdi, Keshoo Bai, Maulvi Faiz Muhammad, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, besides the Secretary of the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety and other senior officials of the ministry attended the meeting.