Coronavirus relief: Rs16.58bn distributed under Ehsaas programme, says Dr Sania Nishtar

PM Imran had announced a Rs144 billion relief package for families affected by the coronavirus lockdown

Web Desk
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ISLAMABAD: The government has disbursed Rs16.58 billion among 1.38 million families around the country during the past three days under the Ehsaas relief programme.

The distribution of grant under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme was started countrywide on April 9, 2020, on the special instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan to financially aid more than 12 million deserving families whose incomes have been adversely affected by the coronavirus lockdown.

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Dr Sania Nishtar, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant to the PM, shared the latest figures about the programme in a tweet late on Saturday.

Giving a province-wise breakup of cash grants provided, the SAPM tweeted, “1.38 million families have received Ehsaas Emergency Cash in the last 3 days. 16.58 billion have been disbursed.”

Out of the planned 17,000 biometrically-enabled Ehsaas cash distribution points, 7,317 have been opened countrywide with special protective measures for COVID-19 to facilitate speedy cash payments to those in need.

The number of cash distribution centres and counters to expedite the distribution was being increased to prevent over-crowding of beneficiaries, a report released a day earlier said. 

“Since the Ehsaas Emergency Cash operations began nationwide on Thursday, Ehsaas has witnessed long queues in some places but in the majority of cases, things were orderly and Rs12,000,” Dr Nishtar.

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According to a report, 40 Ehsaas Emergency Cash retailers have been arrested over swindling beneficiaries in different ways in some parts of the country particularly Sindh, South Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Taking strict action on the complaints of beneficiaries lodged through around 34 FIRs, fraudster device operators were arrested by the police and sent to lockups for fraudulently deducting Rs500-1,000 from every recipient for processing their payment.

District Administration, police, military personnel and Ehsaas regional offices jointly stepped up against the corrupt payment operators and arrested them from payment sites.

Talking about the cases reported on mismanagement and corruption, Dr Nishtar said, “I have written a stern letter to Ehsaas regional officials countrywide to stringently ensure transparent operations in emergency cash disbursements. I shall not tolerate any mismanagement or embezzlement and would continue fighting corruption till my last breath.”

Urging recipients of Ehsaas Emergency Cash assistance to insist on getting full payment of Rs12,000 cash handouts from the retailers, she said, “If any device operator demands any favour or deduction, it should be immediately reported, and the concerned authorities should come into action immediately to take strict action against such persons. For queries, the citizens can call on the toll-free number 0800-26477,” the SAPM added.

PM Imran Khan had announced a huge financial relief package of Rs144 billion for the poor sections of the society who have been hit hard by the closure of businesses due to lockdown amid COVID-19 pandemic.