Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday Formal accorded formal approval to the Punjab Khidmat Card programme to be launched on March 23. Low-income people issued the card will get cash assistance, and health and educational facilities in a phased programme.
Plans for a social protection authority, to expand the scope of Qarz-i-Hasna Scheme, to establish a Rozgar Bank and launch the health insurance scheme were also discussed at the meeting.
The chief minister said the government had decided to launch the Khidmat Cards to provide relief to the poorest segments of society. He said the programme was an important welfare project under which low income people would get financial assistance.
He said the name and national identity card number of the head of the family would be engraved on the card. He said a social protection authority would be set up to consolidate all welfare-oriented programmes of the government.
He noted that the revolutionary programme to provide interest-free loans under the Chief Minister’s Self- Employment Scheme was continuing. He said loans worth Rs5 billion had been provided and more than 290,000 families had benefited.
He said that interest-free loans had been distributed among people purely on merit and in a transparent manner.
He said the rate of repayment was 99.8 percent. He said that the programme of extending interest-free loans would be implemented in a more effective manner in the future, and its scope would be expanded to benefit more needy people.
Sharif issued instructions to form a committee headed by the provincial finance minister to submit final recommendations on the Punjab Rozgar Bank, giving an organisational form to the programme for interest-free loans. He said experts in micro-finance should be consulted for this purpose.
He said in order to provide quality health facilities to poor families, health insurance schemes would be started initially in four districts including Chakwal, Hafizabad, Layyah and Rajanpur.
He said these would be extended to the rest of the province in a phased programme.
He said that under the health insurance scheme, insurance cards would be issued to poor families and modern treatment would be available in hospitals free of cost.
He said like other welfare programmes, the government’s health insurance scheme would be furthered in a transparent manner and an international third party audit would be compulsory.
Earlier, advisor to Prime Minister Dr Musadaq Malik gave a briefing on the health insurance scheme and the Punjab Rozgar Bank. Former federal minister Shaukat Tareen, assembly members, chief secretary, senior government officials and experts from the private sector were also present.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2014.