Pakistan

Govt to double budget allocation for poor segments of society: Dr Sania

Govt to double budget allocation for poor segments of society: Dr Sania

ISLAMABAD - Chairperson Ehsaas Program and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar says government will provide social protection to vulnerable segments of society through a number of programmes.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Saturday afternoon, she said despite current austerity drive of the government and voluntary decision of many public sector institutions to not ask for more budget, the budget allocated for social protection has been doubled.

She said social protection aims at measures for poorest of the poor, those facing calamity and disabled people.

Dr Sania Nishtar said surveys show that 2.5 percent population in Pakistan is facing some sort of disability that is equivalent to 5 million people. She said people registered with NADRA as disabled will be issued Health Insaaf Cards in order to provide them free health facility.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Protection said under Ehsaas program, it has been decided that blind people will be provided free white cans while those who are suffering disability of legs will be provided free wheel chairs. She said deaf people will be provided free hearing aids.

Chairperson Ehsaas program said two percent quota in government jobs for disabled people will be ensured. She said Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken serious notice of not implementing this quota and directed to ensure it.

Dr Sania Nishtar said in Naya Pakistan Housing scheme, two percent quota has also been reserved for disabled people. Besides, one percent quota has been reserved for disabled people in government residences. Planning Commission has issued directive to all ministries to prepare disability sensitive PC-1s.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation said it has been decided to establish centers in 20 deprived districts of the country where artificial limbs will be manufactured to provide to people who become disabled.

Dr Sania Nishtar said a new scheme for unemployed is being started in which eighty thousand people will be given loans each month in order to start their own businesses. They will also be provided assets and facilitation in starting their businesses.

Dr Sania Nishtar said for poor students, a new undergraduate scheme is being launched in cooperation with HEC in which university and hostel fees of the undergrad students will be paid by the government. A voucher scheme for girl students in cooperation with provincial governments will also be started, in which parents will be given stipends to encourage them to send their female children to school.

Sania Nishtar said in order to assist old pensioners, the monthly pension of Employees Old Age Benefits Institution has been raised to 6500 rupees. On experimental basis, Ehsaas houses will be constructed for old pensioners.

She said a new policy aimed at introducing standards and benchmarks in existing orphanages, as well as to increase their numbers, is also in offing.

Chairperson Ehsaas program said the program has a special focus on laborers and it will bring them into the fold of social protection. The day laborers or people doing seasonal jobs will be registered in order to make them eligible for social protection. She said a labor expert group has been constituted that meets twice weekly.