PESHAWAR: Following on from the federal government, the provincial government has decided to launch its own poverty reduction and welfare scheme: “Ehsaas Programme”.
The project will operate side-by-side and in coordination with that of the federal government so that the provincial project supplements the federal one and avoids duplication.
This was agreed between Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar at the Pakhtunkhwa House in Islamabad on Monday.
Dr Nishtar, who also heads the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) briefed CM Mahmood about the Ehsaas programme. She added that its strategy has been articulated in four pillars and it currently embodies 115 policy actions, which will be expanded as the process of consultations over the programme further widens.
The four pillars include: addressing elite capture and making the government system work to create equality; devising safety nets for the disadvantaged segments of the population; creating jobs and livelihoods; and human capital development, she elaborated.
“It is targeted at driving the government’s entire might in pursuit of objectives such as equality and human development,” she said. The programme, Dr Nishtar said, is geared for the extremely poor, orphans, widows, the homeless, the disabled, those who risk medical impoverishment, for the jobless, for poor farmers, for laborers, for the sick and undernourished; for students from low-income backgrounds and for poor women and elderly citizens and also lifting lagging areas where poverty is rampant.
To tailor the programme, she said that they are in the process of compiling fresh data on the subject so that the weaknesses of past programmes are properly covered in a timely manner.
The K-P chief minister said that efforts should be made to ensure that the benefits of the programme easily and specifically reach those for whom it has been formulated.
He further said that the selection of beneficiaries should be made in a transparent manner and no political or personal affiliation should affect or interfere with the process. In this regard, he appreciated the efforts to compile fresh data.
He hoped that the programme brings the deserving segments of society out of the poverty trap. In this regard, he said that the specific local dynamics and untapped potential must not be ignored.
Mahmood assured Dr Nishtar that the provincial government will not only contribute to and support the federal government in the programme but also launch its own programme with its own set of indicators where efforts of the federal government will be supplemented.
For this purpose, it was agreed that the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Safety Nets will soon organise a proper and detailed briefing for the government so that the province can also prepare its own programme while avoiding possible duplication.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2019.