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Financial aid schemes by next month for youth, women

ISLAMABAD, May 27 (WNP): In order to make youth self-sufficient and to empower women financially in the society, Prime Minister Imran Khan is going launch ‘Ehsaas Qarz-i-Hasna Scheme’ and ‘Asset Transfer Scheme’ by the next month.

This was decided during a briefing given by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Safety Nets and Poverty Alleviation (PASS) Dr Sania Nishtar on the status of implementation of the Ehsaas programme.

‘Ehsaas’ is a comprehensive and multifaceted program with 115 policies under four pillars. These include addressing elite capture and making the government system work to create equality; safety nets for disadvantaged segments of the population; jobs and livelihoods; and human capital development.

‘Ehsaas’ is an inter-sectoral programme to be implemented by 26 federal agencies, four provinces and special areas.

Under the Ehsaas Qarz-i-Hasna Scheme, over 80,000 loans would be disbursed each month among youth and women enabling them to undertake their own business ventures and help their families extricate from poverty trap.  These loans would be prioritized in the underdeveloped districts.

Appreciating the efficacy of the existing programme, the prime minister approved injection of an additional amount of five billion rupees to the existing fund so that the programme is launched in collaboration with the existing partners of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund.

Dr Sania briefed the prime minister about the timelines to implement those Ehsaas projects and policies for which the Division of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety and its attached departments had responsibility.

The timeline of implementation of the Kifalat programme and the manner in which financial and digital inclusion of women would be enabled by October this year and the transformative changes in the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) cash transfer system that are currently underway.

She also gave details about the demand-side shock-oriented safety net, Tahafuz, certain windows which were expected to be deployed by July 2019.

In addition, details and timelines of the graduation and interest free loans programme and the new Solutions Challenge Policy for lagging districts were also discussed.

Dr Sania also briefed the prime minister about a nutrition initiative to address malnutrition in all its forms, the new socioeconomic registry which is being executed by BISP, Ehsaas undergraduate student scholarship initiative and  plans in the pipeline to extend the education conditional cash transfers for lagging districts.

She informed that in order to protect and ensure social security net to workers in the informal sector, several weekly meetings of the labour expert working group had been held.

A briefing was given on the timeline of policy formulation. Details were also shared about plans to revitalize Trust for Voluntary Organizations and to make its governance effective and transparent so that the organization could be used to upscale successful models in the non-governmental sector.

A number of other projects including the plan to open 20 centers for differently abled, opening of National Center for Human Nutrition, and setting up fora for non-governmental stakeholders, and diaspora were also discussed.

The prime minister was also briefed about the governance reforms in safety nets institutions including BISP to ensure maximum transparency and efficiency.

Dr Sania Nishtar said policies concerning various components of Ehsaas Program would be presented before the Cabinet after June for its approval.

The prime minister appreciated the progress being made by Dr Sania and her team.
He also approved creation of the Ehsaas Steering Committee during the meeting. The Ehsaas Steering Committee would be headed by the Prime Minister himself.

It was also decided during the meeting that a meeting of the implementers of Ehsaas Program at federal and provincial level will be convened soon to chalk out strategy for roll-out and smooth implementation of Ehsas Program components which are responsibilities of ministries other than the Division of Poverty Alleviation and Social protection.

“We aim to turn Pakistan into a welfare state based on the model of Riyasat-e-Madina that takes full ownership of the needs of its poor and vulnerable.” the prime minister maintained.

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