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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Uplifting backward areas: After Sindh, Balochistan, PM Khan to announce GB package

Beside announcement of packages, a briefing on the promotion of tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan is also on Prime Minister Khan's agenda. PM Khan is on spree to initiate mega projects for federating units as he spends Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) funds.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to visit Gilgit today to announce an uplift package for Gilgit Baltistan besides inaugurating Ehsaas welfare and telecommunication projects.

During the day long visit, the prime minister will address a ceremony where he will also announce the uplift package for Gilgit Baltistan.

He will also inaugurate new projects of Special Communications Organizations (SCO) to help extend cellular as well as internet facility in GB’s remote areas besides overhauling the existing services.

Ehsaas program in GB

Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to announce province-wide rollout of three major Ehsaas programmes, including Nashonuma, Secondary Education Stipends and One Woman One Account Initiative in Gilgit Baltistan on Friday.

So far, eight Ehsaas Nashonuma centers have been opened in three GB districts of Diamer, Astore and Kharmang. A detailed roadmap has been developed in collaboration with the GB provincial government to open the centres in every district.

Ehsaas Nashonuma is pegged on improving nutrition and health in the first 1,000 days of life, starting at conception and finishing at age of two.

Under the Prime Minister’s “One Woman One Bank Account Initiative”, Ehsaas Bachat Account (saving account) for Ehsaas Kafalaat beneficiaries has been launched in 13 districts of the country. The districts include Haripur (KP), Muzaffarabad (AJK), Hunza Nagar (GB), Quetta (Balochistan), Islamabad (ICT), Faisalabad, Okara, Sheikhupura and Sargodha (Punjab), Matiari, Karachi Malir, Sanghar and Khairpur (Sindh).

The initiative will formally be launched in Hunza Nagar district and will be scaled up later nationwide.

Read more: GB Assembly unanimously demands provisional provincial status

Ehsaas Kafaalat beneficiaries will have the option of either drawing their money or saving money into digital wallets. For the first time, the poorest women in Pakistan have the option to save their payments.

The prime minister will also announce the first of its kind Ehsaas’ Secondary Education Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme for secondary schoolchildren of deserving households.

Ehsaas has already approved and budgeted for the expansion of the conditional cash transfer from the primary level to the secondary education level.

The new secondary education CCT has been structured along the lines of Ehsaas Stipend policy that allocates higher stipend amount for girls as compared to boys.

The children of underprivileged households will be provided quarterly conditional cash grants of Rs 2,500 for a boy child and Rs 3,000 for a girl child on fulfilment of 70% attendance in school.

This programme will commence from the next financial year and will be implemented in all districts of GB.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has already been agreed with the GB government.

Special Assistant to the PM Dr Sania Nishtar, in a statement, stated, “Overall, under the Ehsaas umbrella, there are many programmes for GB. Post-COVID-19, there is a need for new forms of social protection and the need to reach out to various disadvantaged regions.”

She said, “The education conditional cash transfer programme is being expanded to secondary level, the health and nutrition programme, Ehsaas Nashonuma is being upscaled in time and the phased expansion of the One Woman One Account initiative countrywide, is well on time this year. Also, additional resources have been allocated for the Ehsaas National Poverty Graduation Initiative.”

Read more: PM launches “Koi Bhuka Na Soye” under Ehsaas program

Since the launch of PM’s Ehsaas in March 2019, several Ehsaas programmes and initiatives like Ehsaas Kafaalat, Ehsaas Primary School Stipends, Ehsaas Nashonuma, Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship, Ehsaas Interest-Free Loans, Ehsaas Emergency Cash and several others have been rolled out across GB to benefit marginalized populations.

Under the Ehsaas Interest-Free Loans programme, small interest free loans worth 1.24 billion have been disbursed among 30,903 beneficiaries in nine districts: Gilgit, Astore, Ghanche, Ghizer, Hunza, Kharmang, Nagar, Shigar and Skardu.

Through the Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship programme, 1,178 scholarships have been awarded to deserving and talented students 948% girls) of GB in the year 2019-20.

During the COVID-19 situation, Ehsaas Emergency Cash worth Rs. 1.42 billion was disbursed in Gilgit Baltistan among 124,534 beneficiaries.

Under the Primary Education Conditional Cash Transfer programme, 58,288 deserving children are benefitting from the quarterly stipends (Rs 2,000 for girl child and Rs 1,500 for boy child per quarter).

Across Baltistan, Astore and Ghizer, eight Ehsaas Nashonuma Centers have been opened to serve pregnant and lactating mothers, and children under two years of age. Total 1,408 beneficiaries (children and mothers) have been enrolled under Nashonuma in the three districts, who will get specialized nutritious food to prevent stunting in children along with cash stipends (Rs 2,000 for girl child and Rs 1,500 for boy child per quarter).

Read more: An international cricket stadium to be built in Nagar, Gilgit-Baltistan

Under the Ehsaas Kafaalat, 56,920 women beneficiaries are being served with the monthly stipends. The number is likely to increase with the enrollment of new households through the ongoing Ehsaas survey.

For the ongoing Kafaalat payments, as many as 53 specialized campsites have been set up in GB to facilitate biometrically enabled disbursements to deserving households enrolled in Kafaalat. The GB based recipients can also withdraw Kafaalat stipends from biometric ATM machines of the +Ehsaas partnering bank, Bank Alfalah.

To identify new deserving households for the Ehsaas Kafaalat programme, the Ehsaas survey is currently 43.76% complete in GB. The android based survey is progressing smoothly to accomplish by June 30, 2021.

Ehsaas Registration desks will be set up over the next three months in every tehsil after the survey reaches a 70% milestone in each district. This will enable missed households to come forward and self-register themselves in the survey.

Read more: Digital is the way forward for BISP, Ehsaas & all cash transfers!

Aiming to serve free shelter and meals to daily wage earners, one new Panagah has recently been opened in Skardu, the first in GB and the second will be opened soon in Gilgit.

Courtesy: APP