Special Assistant to the P.M. on Social Safety says families facing difficulties due to coronavirus can message 8171 for aid
Families affected by the lockdowns hampering their ability to earn an income will be able to avail government aid by sending a message to a SMS portal that will go into operation from today (Wednesday), says Special Assistant to the P.M. on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr. Sania Nishtar.
Addressing a program on Radio Pakistan, Nishtar said deserving families could sign up to benefit from the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program by sending their national identity card numbers to 8171. “This Rs. 150 billion program is the country’s biggest social protection program,” said Nishtar, adding that it had been specifically launched to counter the financial problems being faced by the impoverished in light of the movement restrictions imposed because of the novel coronavirus.
Under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program, Rs. 12,000 would be granted to each deserving family through a transparent mechanism, said Nishtar. She said that in addition to the cash program, the government had also launched the Ehsaas Ration Platform to connect people wishing to donate food rations to those who needed it most. “35,000 deserving families, and over 600 donors have so far registered themselves for this via the online platform,” she added.
According to the Special Assistant to the P.M., deserving families were eligible to avail both the Cash Program and the Ration Platform simultaneously to ensure they did not suffer unduly due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
She said the federal government was making all-out efforts, with the coordination of provincial governments, to ensure sufficient supplies of essential commodities were available for the masses.
On Tuesday, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar told a press conference that the provincial government had earmarked Rs. 10 billion for the financial assistance of needy families. He said each deserving family would be paid Rs. 4,000/month in a transparent and foolproof manner as part of relief efforts.
Buzdar said financial assistance could be availed through SMS, adding that beneficiaries would be able to collect money merely by showing their CNIC.
Pakistan currently has 2,039 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 28 deaths and 82 full recoveries. Most of the country is currently in the midst of partial lockdowns to encourage social distancing and curb the spread of the disease.