Govt reaches out to people living below poverty line

LAYYAH: Taking his government’s anti-poverty initiative of Ehsaas a step forward, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday launched the Ehsaas Amdan Program, aimed at creating opportunities for respectable livelihood for the most disadvantaged people through the transfer of assets.

Addressing the launching ceremony here, the prime minister said the government was striving to develop Pakistan as a welfare state as had been envisioned under its ideology. So far, the country had witnessed pro-rich development that instead of benefiting the poor had widened the gap in the society, he added.

Chairperson of Ehsaas Progam Dr Sania Nishtar, Chief Minister of Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, the provincial cabinet members and a large number of the residents of the southern Punjab city attended the event.

Two beneficiaries of the Amdan program, Kulsoom Bibi and Nokar Hussain, who were also on the stage, spoke highly of the prime minister’s anti-poverty initiatives to make them live an independent and respectable life.

Under the Rs15 billion program, the government would give small assets to the people living below the poverty line to make them earn a living and come out of the shackles of poverty.

The assets include livestock (goats, cows, buffaloes and poultry), agricultural inputs, body of auto-rickshaws, and inputs for small retail outlets and small enterprises.

Launched in 375 rural union councils of 23 districts of Pakistan, the program would feature transferring of around 200,000 assets to the deserving households with 60 percent women and 30 percent youth beneficiaries.

He told the gathering that the State of Madinah had taken the responsibility of its poor people. China, too, had become a great nation by steering its 700 million people out of poverty, he said. “This is our dream about Pakistan too,” the prime minister said who also distributed assets including agriculture tools, a cotton ginning machine, cattle and rickshaws among the poor people.

He said the Ehsaas Program was an effort to uplift the people as it consisted of Kafalat Card for the weakest segment, Amdan Program to increase income, health insurance cover for six million families, loan scheme for small business and 50,000 scholarships for the youth. He said the government would provide interest-free loans to around 80,000 people every month.

Moreover, he said the government had already set up 180 shelter homes and would widen the project countrywide to ensure that not a single poor person spent the night in the open and without food.

Besides, the government was promulgating a law for provision of legal services to the people who could not afford a lawyer to contest the case in the court, he added.

The prime minister said the government was in the process of introducing a uniform education curriculum with no discrimination among rich and poor or seminaries and government and private schools.

“This is more difficult. This is not easy. During the last 70 years, we have destroyed our education system, and it will take time to rectify it,” he remarked.

Moreover, a carrot-and-stick policy would also be introduced for the teachers and the habitually absent teachers would be replaced with the efficient and punctual ones.

He appreciated the new Inspector-General of Police, Punjab, Shoaib Dastgir, who had started police reform and was apprehending notorious criminals who earlier used to enjoy protection.

The prime minister told the gathering that Pakistan had come out of the difficult times with 75 percent reduction in the current account deficit, an appreciating rupee, improving of the stock market and increasing of foreign direct investment. In the coming days, the people would get more good news, he added.

Chief Minister of Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar and Dr Sania Nishtar also addressed the gathering.—APP