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Event Title: A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social protection was held at Parliament House

Event Date: 2021-07-12

A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social protection was held at Parliament House today under the chairmanship of Senator Naseebullah Bazai. Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr. Sania Nishtar gave a detailed briefing on the work, performance, projects and future strategy of the Ministry.

Special Assistant Dr. Sania Nishtar while briefing the committee members regarding Ehsaas program said that our target this year is to provide financial assistance, health cards and about 5 million scholarships to 10 million people. Dr. Sania Nishtar said that in the past different social protection agencies used to report to various ministries, which have now been brought under one ministry. The move has yielded very positive results. In 2019, we introduced the digital infrastructure system facilitating people through the use of data analytics and SMS. We established delivery unit to simultaneously evaluate the performance of different programs through dashboards. We developed a uniform governance and executive policy that received formal cabinet approval.

Dr. Sania Nishtar said that while undertaking fundamental reforms in the Benazir Income Support Program, its scope is being further expanded and further steps will be taken to maintain its transparency. Under the Ehsaas Scholarship Program Financial assistance is being provided up to Rs. 75,000. Its scope has been extended from 50 districts to 154 districts across the country. Under this program, girls are given more stipends than boys keeping in view the development of women. Under the Ehsaas Panagah and langar khana program, anchorages have been set up which provide food to thousands of needy and poor people daily and all this is being run successfully under public-private partnership.

Under the Ehsas Rehri Ban project, we have provided regular licenses to poor and small Pedlars in various sectors of Islamabad to alleviate their financial difficulties. The program will be extended to more cities. Special Assistant Dr. Sania Nishtar told the committee that progress of our survey is currently at 98% which will be completed by the last week of July. We have digitized this whole process and created a system based on principles. We are continuing our efforts to eradicate poverty by going beyond politics and prioritizing concerns of common people. Under the program, Sindh was given a share of 31.4 per cent as against 22 per cent in terms of population. In some cases rate of distribution of funds is determined by taking into account the poverty ratio of that particular province.

Dr. Sania Nishtar presented details of the ministry's budget for the last three years to the committee. According to which the budget of 247 billion in the year 2019-20 was fully utilized. In the year 2020-21, Rs. 200 billion was allocated with 100% utilization. In the year 2021-22, we have got a budget of 250 billion which will be fully spent on various programs for the welfare of the people. She said that under Free Access to Data policy we have uploaded all the details on the website. We share real time data with the provinces to create equal development opportunities in all the units. In the next year financial assistance will be provided to 22 million families. One Window operations will be launched in all the districts under Ehsaas program. We use Pakistan Radio to deliver important Information about Ehsaas program to the public in a timely manner.

Chairman Committee Senator Naseebullah Bazai while appreciating the work of Dr. Sania Nishtar said her dedication for helping the poor is unprecedented and committee will support her in every way to make people’s lives much better.

Senator Aun Abbas said that cochlear implants are important for children with congenital deafness. The financial assistance provided under this program should be increased so that more and more children can benefit from it. We formally recommend through the committee that the scope of this project be further expanded while increasing its funding.  On which Dr. Sania Nishtar said that she will talk to PMDC to provide more funds for the program. Senator Kishu Bai said that in remote districts of Sindh and Baluchistan, special attention should be paid to the lack of Ehsaas Emergency Cash facility and issues related to health card. Answering this Dr. Sania Nishtar said that operations are being carried out in many districts under Ehsaas program and efforts are being made to reach more families in far flung areas of the country such as Tharparkar.

Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal gave a detailed briefing on the work, performance and plans of the department. The committee was informed that Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal is currently providing relief services in 154 districts. , Working on various projects related to women's empowerment, child protection and financial assistance and protection of the elderly. Bait-ul-Mal officials told the committee that the efforts of Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal have saved about 100,000 lives. 21,000 scholarships have been awarded in the last five years working with various universities in the field of education.

Senator Aun Abbas directed the officials of the department to increase the number of scholarships for the province of Baluchistan and to open Women Empowerment Centers in more districts. Bait-Ul-Mal officials agreed to increase the number of scholarships from two and a half hundred to five hundred.

While considering the public petitions referred by the Chairman Senate regarding regularization of contract employees and providing back benefits to current employees.  Bait-ul-Mal officials apprised the committee that Bait-ul-Mal does not have enough budget to do the same.  The Committee while considering the second petition ruled that it belongs to the overseas department.

Today's meeting of the committee was attended by Senator  Aun Abbass, Senator Prof. Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani,  senator Kaasho Bai, Senator Kamran Murtaza, Senator Maulvi Faiz Muhammad and senior officials of the Ministry.