Special Assistant to the P.M. urges those facing issues with Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program to contact helpline, register complaint
The Government of Pakistan has thus far distributed Rs. 22,466 billion among 1.77 million deserving people under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Sania Nishtar said on Sunday.
Addressing a media briefing on progress in the disbursal of funds to people suffering the economic impact of lockdowns designed to curb the spread of coronavirus, she said that this sum—Rs. 12,000 per family—had been distributed in four days.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has described the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program as the country’s largest-ever social protection and relief operation. It is designed to help alleviate the suffering of low-income households, who have been worst hit by the movement restrictions imposed to prevent the virus from spreading further.
To questions, Nishtar admitted that a few government representatives had failed to give the full Rs. 12,000 to beneficiaries, adding that this would not be tolerated. She warned of strict action against anyone found guilty of exploiting the vulnerable, adding that cases had already been registered against 40 agents.
The special assistant said some beneficiaries were also facing issues due to long queues at payment centers, and urged people to only travel to payment centers once they had received a message from the government with the date and time that had been allocated for them.
According to Nishtar, approximately half of the designated 17,000 payment centers have commenced operations, adding the remainder was delayed due to movement restrictions designed to curb the spread of coronavirus. She said the federal government was coordinating with provinces to open all the payment centers while ensuring social distancing measures.
The special assistant to the P.M. said anyone facing problems with availing the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program should contact the call center at 0800-26477. She said she had personally listened to some calls on Sunday to get a better sense of the frequently asked questions from callers. “I wanted to hear first-hand about people’s complaints pertaining to Ehsaas Emergency Cash distribution, so that we can make improvements in the program in real time,” she said.
She said the helpline was, on average, receiving 1,500 calls/day, adding that the primary question on when they would receive the payment. The call center is able to provide details about timelines, she said. She also thanked the call center staff for their dedication and hard work in disseminating information to the public.
Nishtar reiterated that the Emergency Cash Program was only for daily wagers whose work had been severely affected due to coronavirus lockdowns. People whose salaries have been stopped during this time are not eligible for this program, she said, adding that anyone wishing to appeal their eligibility should reach out to the call center for help.