ISLAMABAD, Dec 29 (APP):Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar Sunday said that Kifalat programme of Ehsaas initiative will be launched in 15 districts within few weeks to empower the poor segments of society.

An additional amount of 8.6 billion rupees will be spent on Kifalat programme which will be expanded to 34 districts in March and more districts till 2020, she disclosed while talking to APP in an interview.

Dr. Sania Nishtar informed that the socio-economic survey of 216 villages along the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir is completed under Kifalat Programme to include all the women having Computerized National Identity Cards in the programme without any condition. These women frequently suffer from economic losses as result of Indian ceasefire violations in the list of beneficiaries, she said.

She said another milestone will be launching of a shock-oriented precision safety net, ‘Tahafaz’ till next month under Ehsaas programme for the vulnerable to protect them against shocks. The initiative includes provision of one-time financial assistance for protection of deserving against catastrophic events, assistance to poor widows who don’t have any earning children through Tahafaz and legal aid through Tahafaz.

Partnership with NGOs to upscale successful programs for orphans, street children, seasonal migrants, transgenders, victims of child and bonded labor and daily wage workers will also be components of this initiative, she said.

Sania Nishtar informed that efforts are being carried out to bring transparency in each and every programme as per the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The details of the 14,730 government employees out of total 820,165 undeserving beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support programme (BISP) identified in a recent move to make this programme transparent will be sent to their relevant departments for further legal action. Now the number of beneficiaries reduced to 4.27 million, she said.

Responding to a question, she said majority of the cases (33 percent) of undeserving beneficiaries were found in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa followed by 29.67 in Punjab, 22.32 in Sindh, 5.52 in Balochistan, 2.12 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and only one percent and 0.2 percent in Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad respectively.

Sania Nishtar said Ehsaas digital payment mechanism with bio metric verification is in place now for the BISP beneficiaries which will reduce the chances of identity theft and fraudulent withdrawals.

She said the government has planned to launch `Ehsaas App’ in the month of January to educate the common people as well as beneficiaries about the schemes and facilities being provided under this pro-poor initiative.

Sania Nishtar disclosed that it is for the first time in the history that the government is introducing a unique scholarship programme for the poor children under Ehsaas initiative which could be availed by the students who are unable to meet the merit criteria but deserve.

She said the purpose behind launching Ehsaas programme is purely to empower poor citizens and address their issues. “We are also in efforts to create close liaison with all the ministries to hold joint efforts to smooth the outreach of facilities through simplifying procedures for the labourers, overseas Pakistanis, teachers etc belonging to the poor sections of society”, she said.

Sania Nishtar said, the present government is also providing incentives to the private sector so that it can work for the welfare of poor segments. She informed that her division in collaboration with a private organization is in process to ensure poor children access to the free online content created for educational purposes.