In 2008, the Pakistani government introduced the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), a social safety and poverty reduction initiative recently replaced by the Ehsaas program.
The PPP pledged a welfare state to Pakistanis in their election program, and the country’s prime minister referred to it as a crucial move in that direction. It aims to improve the status of the underprivileged, lessen inequality, invest in the masses, and improve the nation’s underperforming areas. The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, who also served as chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme, established a distinct ministry within the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division. The Ehsaas Program includes two main pillars as of 2021: Ehsaas Emergency Cash, which was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ehsaas Kafalat, whose coverage was increased from 7 million to 10 million individuals in 2021.
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, Imran Khan’s flagship welfare program was the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program. It was praised by the World Bank, which included it among the best global social protection measures, and noted that it performed well in terms of actual coverage rates compared to planned coverage rates. The welfare project provided monthly stipends to 13.2 million recipients, covering millions of lower-income Pakistani households during the pandemic.
Background of the program
In its party manifesto, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf pledged to run in the 2018 general elections in Pakistan while retaining and enhancing the Benazir Income Support Programme and launching a variety of social safety schemes.
Objective of the Program
The Constitution of Pakistan has defined the Ehsaas program as a model of social protection, which will contribute towards the establishment of a “welfare state”. The goal is to build precise safety nets, encourage financial inclusion and access to digital services, support women’s economic empowerment, place a strong emphasis on the importance of human capital formation for the reduction of poverty, economic growth, and sustainable development, and remove financial obstacles to post-secondary education and health care.
The promotion of the people’s social and economic well-being is covered in Article 38(D) of the Pakistani Constitution’s Principles of Policy chapter. By amending the constitution, the government affirms that providing for a person’s basic needs, including food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care, is the government’s responsibility.
Eligibility for the program
The program is intended for those who are extremely poor, orphans, widowed, homeless, disabled, at risk of going without medical care, jobless, impoverished farmers, laborers, people who are ill and undernourished, students from low-income families, as well as poor women and senior persons. This plan also aims to improve poverty-stricken communities that are behind. Through the 8171website, one could verify their eligibility for the Ehsaas Programme.
Structure of the Program
On March 27, 2019, the federal government formally launched Ehsaas. It comprised many social security initiatives designed to improve the social security of the general public, such as the Ehsaas Panaah Gah, Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, Ehsaas Taleemi Wazif, Ehsaas Ration Riyaat, Ehsaas Scholarships, and Ehsaas Petrol Card. It presently incorporates 134 policy activities within its four-pillared poverty reduction plan. Ehsaas Aamdan, Ehsaas Kafaalat, Ehsaas Emergency Cash during the Covid epidemic, Ehsaas Cash Assistance for women, Ehsaas Scholarships, Ehsaas Free Atta, etc. are some of the major programs. Additionally included in the Division of Poverty Alleviation and Social Security was the Benazir Income Support Programme.
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