ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Sania Nishtar has said that the government has distributed an amount of Rs22.466 billion among 1.77 million individuals under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme till Sunday afternoon since the beginning of the payment process.
"It has been four days, since Ehsaas started one-off cash distribution of Rs12,000 each to the low-income households in all provinces of Pakistan -- including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir from Thursday,” she disclosed in a media briefing on Sunday.
The Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme is the largest ever social protection and relief operation in the history of Pakistan aimed to help alleviate sufferings of low-income households, who have been distressed by the coronavirus shut down across the country.
Mentioning the hurdles being faced in the smooth delivery of payments, Nishtar said a few agents deducted the amount from the cash payment of Rs12,000 of the beneficiaries that “will not be tolerated at all”.
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She warned that strict action “will be taken against whosoever responsible for exploiting the innocent people”.
“FIRs have been registered against 40 agents,” she said and added, “They have been sent to jails.”
“The beneficiaries are also facing issues at some payment centers due to long queues,” she said, while urging those to reach payment centers only who received the message from the authorities with mention of date and time.
Nishtar said that out of 17,000 payment centers, half of them have been opened while the others were delayed due to lockdown restrictions in provincial areas.
“We are in efforts to open the rest of the payment centers in coordination with the provinces through opening of banks so that the crowding can be avoided”.
The special assistant explained that the assistance “is only for those daily wagers or piece-rate workers whose work has been severely affected due to the lockdown while those whose salaries have been stopped are not eligible for the amount”.
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She urged the people who have not received the message yet to wait at home. “Do not proceed to centers unless you receive the message mentioning the payment center, time and date of receiving payment.”
Nishtar urged those facing problems to contact the call center of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme.
"I wanted to hear first-hand about people's complaints pertaining to Ehsaas Emergency Cash distribution, so that we can make improvements in the programme in real time,” she said.
On average 1,500 calls are being received on the daily basis in the call centre and this number has increased since the advertisement appeared in newspapers.
Mostly people were asking about when the payment messages would be received; millions of people have received messages stating that they are eligible but that they need to wait for the "payment message".
In this regard, people want to know what the timelines is, and the Call centre is proving very useful in giving out details. APP