PM’s SPP a landmark initiative to control poverty, price hike – The Nation

Science & Technology

December 20, 2021

Peshawar-Inflicting severe damage to socio-economic sectors including agriculture, economy and food supply chain, the coronavirus pandemic has perished over 5.29 million people worldwide and caused substantial inflation and price hike in regional and international markets affected common man.
Wreaking havoc in nearly 210 countries with over 269 million confirmed cases, the coronavirus had adversely affected South Asian countries where it killed about 474,000 people in India, 28,812 in Pakistan, 28,016 in Bangladesh and 7,321 in Afghanistan till December 10, 2021. 
The pandemic has widened the demand-supply gaps of agriculture and non-agriculture products due to disruption of food supply chain owing to travel restrictions, thus causing an increase in inflation and price-hike in open markets.
On supply side, coronavirus has halted the smooth flow of food supply chain in domestic, regional and international markets by creating a substantial shortage of agriculture produces and essential services of life due to travel restrictions and lockdowns. 
As a result, the demands of daily used commodities and imported goods including wheat, ghee, cooking oil, pulses, gas, and petroleum products have increased manifolds.
These unprecedented regional and international circumstances made negative impact on production and distribution of the agriculture and non-agriculture products in world including Pakistan. 
To ebb away inflation and price hike in Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan had rolled out the biggest ever ‘Social Protection Programme (SPP)’ of the country in Peshawar under which poor people are being provided massive subsidy on food commodities, homes finance, interest free loans for starting businesses, vocational and technical training to youth, farmers and health insurance for every citizen of Pakistan.
Under the SPP, Ehsas Ration Riayat Programme worth Rs120 billion has been started nationwide providing financial relief to 20 million deserving families, covering overall 130 million people, thus benefiting 53 percent population of Pakistan.
Ehsas Programme official told APP news agency that the beneficiaries have started getting flour, pulses and ghee or cooking oil on 30 percent discount rate from registered kiryana stores. A subsidy of Rs1,000 per month is granted to each of the eligible family on purchase of flour, pulses, ghee/cooking oil. 
All families having less than Rs50,000 per month income are eligible to register themselves through 8171. Only one member of an applicant family whose cell number was issued on his personal CNIC can enrol his/her family through 8171 service while kiryna stores through Ehsas web portal. 
A digitally enabled mobile point of sale system (mPOS)/app has been developed through collaboration of National Bank of Pakistan to serve the beneficiaries through a network of Kiryana stores all over the country. 
The government is incentivising the Kiryna merchants by giving them attractive commission (5-8%) on the Ehsas subsidy amount to encourage them to benefit more and more people. Based on performance, there will also be a lucky draw for Kiryana merchants giving away cars, motorcycles, mobile phones and various other prizes every quarter. 
Ration Riayat Programme’s budget for the next six months is Rs120 billion under which 35 percent fund would be provided by the federal government and 65 by the federating units. So far, the government of Punjab, KP, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir are participating in the landmark programme.
Prof Dr Muhammad Naeem of the Economics Department, University of Swabi, told APP that Ehsas Programme was enjoying confidence of the international monetary institutions due to its transparency, poverty’s alleviation, ebbing away inflation and price-hike. He said the Asian Development Bank has recently approved $603 million results-based lending programme to strengthen and expand social protection programmes under the government’s Ehsas initiative.
Under the integrated social protection development programme, he said the bank would provide a regular loan of $600 million and a $3 million grant from the Asian Development Fund and administer a $24 million grant from Education Above All Foundation.
Sehat Card Plus is another feature of SPP currently underway in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where 7.5 million deserving families are getting free inpatient healthcare services up to Rs1 million per family per year. 
The annual cost of the Sehat Card Plus programme is Rs23 billion being spent on free treatment of patients through 679 empanelled hospitals in the country and 193 hospitals in KP. Till December 10 last, 7,590,944 families were benefited and 760,908 admitted in these empanelled hospitals on whose treatment Rs18.3 billion have been spent by the government.
In Punjab, free health insurance programme will formally start from January 1, 2021 where the facility would be extended to the entire population in three months. This will enable every family to get free treatment up to Rs1 million per year. Under the SPP, the Punjab govern ment is spending Rs320 billion on health insurance programme. 
The insurance facility would be available now to every citizen of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Provision of interest-free loans up to Rs2.7 million to each of 3.7 poor families for construction of houses is another key feature of SPP.
Waqas Anjum, Financial Expert, Provincial Housing Authority, appreciating SPP told the news agency that the country was currently facing a shortfall of about 10 million houses including 2.2 million in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 
He said, “The demand for new housing units is growing at a rate of about 600,000 per year and if we add to it 500,000 units to clear the existing backlog in the next 20 years, then we will need to build 1.1 million units per annum.”
Under the Prime Minister’s ‘Housing for All’ programme, he said work on 10 housing projects including Jalozai Noswhera on 10,000 kanal land and Hangu Township on 8,300 kanal has been expedited. He said 95pc work on Jalozai Housing Scheme was completed and construction work on Hangu Township would start next year.
He said 1,320 low-cost housing units/flats inaugurated by the Prime Minister were being constructed on 150 kanal costing Rs3,300 million at Jalozai for low-income groups under the PM’s Naya Pakistan Housing Project. Each house would cost about Rs2.5 million for which the government would provide a subsidy of Rs300,000 per house and the remaining payments would be made by beneficiaries over a period of 10 to 20 years under mortgage financing on soft instalment, he said.
About 5,000 kanal land in D I Khan, 2,600 kanal for extension of Hangu Township and land for Jalozai Housing Scheme obtained under land sharing formula. Mulazai Housing Project in Peshawar and Jarma housing project in Kohat have been completed and possession letters to beneficiaries for construction of houses issued while work on Havailian housing project in Abbottabad was accelerated.
Another key component of SPP is provision of free vocational and technical training to 3.7 million families under the PM’s Ehsas Education Program. 
The government is providing 6.3 million scholarship with allocation of Rs47 billion on merit basis to students. Free business loans up to Rs500,000 are being provided to 3.7 million families under Naya Pakistan Card to encourage youth to start their own SME related business and take part in the country’s development.
Mohibullah Khan, Provincial Minister for Agriculture and Livestock told APP that provision of Rs500,000 interest-free loans to each farmer having 12.5 acres land was a historic initiative of the government that would bring revolution in agriculture sector. 
He said these loans can be used for purchase of seeds and agriculture machinery by farmers that would increase per acre production besides bringing infertile land under cultivation.
He said Rs1 billion uplift projects were launched to bring 3.2 million acres infertile and non-productive land under agriculture cover in the province. The minister said agriculture uplift projects worth Rs14 billion have been launched for storage of rainy water and soil conservation schemes. 
“Prior to the PTI government, the agriculture’s annual budget was only Rs2 billion that was swelled to record Rs100 billion during tenure of PTI’s government.” Work on two new agriculture universities in D I Khan and Swat expedited besides a veterinary university is being established in Swat district. 
The minister said that salaries of Khateebs have been increased from Rs5,000 to Rs21,000 per month while stipends of over 16,000 imams of mosques and 500 religious leaders of minorities to Rs10,000 per month under the KP government assistance programme.
Muhammad Zahid Rifat
Shahzeb Amin
Najm us Saqib

December 20, 2021
December 20, 2021
December 20, 2021
December 20, 2021
December 20, 2021
December 20, 2021
December 20, 2021
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