Three-year-old Nadia wears protective mask sitting on her mother's lap, as they are waiting to visit an ailing family member, outside a hospital during a lockdown in Karachi. AFP
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
The federal government of Pakistan has announced that the process for payment of Rs144 billion under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme would commence on April 8 to support millions of people affected by the countrywide lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Overall the federal government will provide Rs12,000 assistance to 12 million families each, while Punjab and Sindh have decided to contribute funding for the assistance of additional 700,000 and 250,000 persons, respectively.
The government also said that a number of people were not taking precautionary measures against the deadly virus, warning the masses that they should not take the disease lightly as it was continuously spreading and only lockdown could reduce the pace of new cases.
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Sharing details of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar told a presser that district administrations had been allowed to compile a list of deserving people and send them to the federal government as many deserving people were still not on the list of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
A daily wage worker carries sack of wheat flour and other food supplies provided for free by a municipally in Islamabad. AP
“Deserving people from all the four provinces, Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) will be entitled for the assistance. Quota has been allocated as per population without considering the National Finance Commission for it, because AJK and GB are not included in NFC. For this reason, 2017 census is being considered. Federal government will contribute Rs12 million assistance to the basket but the provinces can give funding if they want to include more people of their provinces in the basket. Punjab and Sindh have agreed to pay for additional 700,000 and 250,000 persons, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will also inform [Centre] about it soon,” she said.
Dr Nishtar said wealth profiling would also be included in the lists such as if candidates had vehicles, travelled abroad and what were their utility bills.
“People can send their CNIC (computerised national identity card) numbers at Ehsaas Emergency number 8171. Candidates have already started sending SMS and a message is sent to them that they are eligible or they should contact their district administrations. “Whenever a CNIC is sent, it hits at as many as seven data basis as it is checked that if the CNIC is correct, it also hits the database of government servants. Federal and provincial government employees are not eligible for the cash relief.
The stringent measures will become effective from April 1. All wedding halls and marquees were closed. Indoor or outdoor dining in the marriage halls and restaurants was banned. However, the facility of takeaway would be continued.
"We have to adopt a balanced policy where the spread of the virus can be prevented and where the poor man and the country's economy are least affected," Imran told a national coordinating committee meeting.
The prime minister said he was not imposing a lockdown for now but that he would close down cities if Pakistan started facing a situation line in neighbouring India,
The Coromandel Express, which runs from Kolkata to Chennai, derailed and fell on the opposite track, with many people still trapped, the reports said.
Sheikh Mohammed added in a tweet on Twitter: "We found its executive director at the service counters, receiving customers, speeding up procedures, and contributing to clearing transactions. The secret shopper assured us that providing the service did not exceed five minutes."
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