May 2020



BR Web Desk May 28, 2020

Accepting food handouts for the first time has become reality for thousands in Spain where poverty has soared during the epidemic, echoing the 2008 crisis from which many have barely recovered.

Jacqueline Alvarez, 42, is picking up basic foodstuffs in the working-class neighbourhood of Aluche.

“I cover my face because I feel really ashamed because I’ve never had to ask (for food) before in my life,” she admits.

Behind her, a queue of nearly 700 people snakes around the buildings, all waiting to receive something to help feed their families from an emergency food bank based in the neighbourhood association.

And such images are popping up increasingly across Spain where food aid handouts have leapt by 40 percent during the lockdown, the Spanish Association of Food Banks (FESBAL) says.

For many people, it is the first time they’ve had to seek help, like Alvarez who has three children and says neither she nor her husband have had any money coming in for the past two months.

“My husband is a waiter and he has been furloughed but we still haven’t received anything,” says Alvarez, who is of Honduran origin.

“I work as a domestic help but my employers haven’t declared me,” – meaning she can’t claim benefits.

The problem is global, with Oxfam saying the economic crisis caused by the pandemic could push 500 million people into poverty.

In Spain, the lockdown has hammered an economy with one of the highest rates of unemployment in the eurozone, second only to Greece.

“This situation has impacted, first and foremost, people who were already vulnerable before the pandemic,” acknowledged Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, “those who had not managed to recover from the effects of the crisis in 2008.”

As the economic crisis took hold, unemployment soared past 26 percent in 2013 before dropping to around 14 percent last year. This year, it is expected to hit 19 percent.

Although the current situation has not yet chalked up the same numbers, the impact has actually been worse.

“The crisis we’re facing now has been exponentially much worse than in 2008… we have never mobilised as many resources as this in our history,” says Olga Diaz, deputy head of social assistance at the Spanish Red Cross.

So far, the organisation has helped more than 1.5 million people since the start of the lockdown in mid-March, “about 68 percent of whom have never come before”, she says.

Unlike in 2008, this situation has “also paralysed the informal economy” which many people relied on to survive the previous crisis, says FESBAL spokesman Angel Franco.

Even before the epidemic took hold, despite the economic recovery, Spain’s poverty rate was “shockingly high” with its poorest living in some of the worst conditions in Europe, said UN poverty expert Philip Alston in February.

But as the number of those struggling has exploded, so has the number of people volunteering to help out.

“It’s incredible… sometimes they’re queueing up to give us food,” smiles Esperanza Vivas, a volunteer at Aluche’s neighbourhood association.

The Red Cross says it has seen the number of volunteers doubling.

And in some places, offers of help have outstripped demand.

“People are calling from all over the place saying they’ve got this or that (to donate), and volunteers too, we have more people who want to work with us than we have space for here,” says Miguel Querijo of the Order of Malta Catholic charity.

At its soup kitchen in the working-class neighbourhood of Tetuan, volunteers who have been helping since the crisis of 2008 work alongside other more recent arrivals like Elena Lizaur.

“We lawyers have little work right now so I’ve used this time to come here,” says the 61-year-old Madrid resident.

But the charities cannot tackle the problem alone.

“Spain cannot afford to see images of queues outside soup kitchens as we’ve seen in these last few days,” Sanchez said last week.

“For this reason, one of the government’s first commitments is to activate as soon as possible a basic income scheme.”

The scheme, which will be launched next month, is expected to help out close to 850,000 struggling households that are facing “severe poverty”.

Until then, Jacqueline Alvarez and her family will just have to do what they can.

“I live day-to-day, I don’t think about the virus,” she told AFP.

“I think about what I’m going to cook and what I’m going to give my children to eat.”

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2020


By Our Correspondent | 5/31/2020

KHAIRPUR: Abject poverty caused by the persisting lockdown forced a woman to attempt joint suicide with her 18-year-old out-ofwork son in Pir Mohammed Shah Ludhani village near here late on Friday night.


The woman, Mehnaz Shaikh, 50, and her son, Shaukat Shaikh, 18, jumped into Abul Wah (irrigation channel) to kill themselves. Some villagers, upon receiving the information, started efforts to rescue them but succeeded only in taking out Shaikh alive from water. A search for his mother was continuing till Saturday evening, about 36 hours af ter it was started.

Shaukat Shaikh told local reporters that the lockdown had rendered him without a livelihood as the date market (Khajoor Mandi), where he used to work as a labourer, stood closed for more than two months.

He said his father died in the meantime, about a month back, but their neighbours had to arrange for his funeral as he had no money for the last rites.

The youth said his mother decided to take the extreme action when they had run out of food and had been starvingforfour days.

Residents of the village told reporters that a large number of families in the area were undergoing a similar ordeal but no one from government or local administration had bothered so far to do the needful even for their survival



The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated May 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan launched a multi-billion Ehsaas emergency cash programme on Monday for the workers and daily wage earners badly affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The prime minister met many jobless persons and inquired about their problems during the ceremony at the Ehsaas Centre. A stipend of Rs12,000 will be given to each applicant under the emergency programme. The scheme is distinct from the Ehsaas cash programme already in operation under which Rs144 billion was allocated for 12 million families .Over Rs100bn has so far been distributed.

Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation, accompanied the prime minister and briefed him on the programme.

Mr Khan ordered swift and transparent distribution of cash among the deserving workers.

Each applicant will receive Rs12,000 under the programme

He said the fund was expanding as more and more people were making generous deposits. This will enable a large number of people to benefit from the scheme.

According to the Prime Minister Office, over 3.4 million applications from jobless people have been received through the Ehsaas Labour Portal so far. Moreover, Rs3bn has been mobilised under the PM Covid-19 Fund.

The prime minister has pledged that for each rupee given by a donor, the government will make a contribution of Rs4.

On May 2, Prime Minister Khan had inaugurated the Ehsaas Labour Portal, which enables those who have lost their livelihood due to the Covid-19 crisis to seek cash assistance from the government.

He had also announced that the donations made to the PM Covid-19 Fund would be used to give emergency cash to people who had lost their jobs or means of livelihood. An amount of Rs12,000 will be given to these individuals under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash scheme.

The existing principles and processes that have been deployed for Ehsaas Emergency Cash will be applied for disbursement of the Prime Minister’s Covid-19 donor funds. The process will be strictly regulated and monitored.

Data analytics will be employed for the selection of beneficiaries. The system of identification will be free from human interference and payments will be made after biometric verification, according to the authorities.

The PM Office said that tehsil-level bank disbursement and withdrawal details would be posted on .

The tehsil-wise number of beneficiaries, bank disbursement details, accounts credited and the money withdrawn will be posted in real time.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2020



LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar on Monday said that more than Rs 6.53 billion has been distributed among the deserving families in five days under the CM Punjab Insaf Imdad Programme and Ehsaas Programme.

He said that more than 544,000 deserving families were given financial aid and a total of 250,000 deserving families will be given aid and more than 600 camps have been set up throughout the province to provide financial assistance to the needy. “The poor people are affected due to Coronavirus and consequent lockdown, and it is the government’s duty to help these people. A most transparent financial aid programme of this magnitude has been introduced, for the first time in the history of the province,” he added.

Meanwhile, he took a jab at the opposition by saying that they have no strategy or any agenda for dealing with the Coronavirus; they use the issue of pandemic for political scoring. He regretted that the opposition politicized this important issue.



Six million people would be provided one-time cash assistance of Rs 12,000 each under the newly added category-IV of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme (EECP) while the entire funding of this programme would come from the Prime Minister’s Corona Relief Fund outside Rs 144 billion allocated to financially assist 12 million families in the three categories of emergency cash initiative.

Category-IV has been introduced to the category mix of emergency cash programme for benefitting 6 million job-loss affectee men and women amid coronavirus shutdown, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said on Tuesday.

Funds for this category come from Prime Minister’s Corona Relief Fund and category-IV beneficiaries will be paid one-time assistance of Rs 12, 000 each channeled through Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, she said in a statement.

PM Imran Khan has committed that for every rupee donated by donors, rupees four will be contributed by the government, she said.

On May 2, the PM had launched the web-portal for soliciting applications from people who lost their livelihoods in the context of the outbreak of coronavirus on Pakistan. Since then, the portal is currently open to applications in line with criteria detailed in the web-based application form. Applicants are required to give a declaration while submitting application form that they lost their job due to coronavirus outbreak.

As part of Ehsaas Emergency Cash framework, categories I-III are funded through government coronavirus relief package. Category-I includes 4.5 million Kafaalat beneficiary women that were cleared from the NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) data analytics before inclusion in the Kafaalat Programme. Category-II includes four million men and women who registered with Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme through Short Messaging Service (SMS). Category-III includes 3.5 million men and women identified through district administrations and as well as SMS facility.

“The existing principles, processes and data analytics that have been applied to Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme categories I-III will be fully deployed in the use of Prime Minister’s Corona Relief Fund for identification of category-IV beneficiaries. Rule-based criteria will be fully adhered to,” Sania Nishtar said.

“The procedure of identification will be fully apolitical and free from human interference. All disbursements will be made after biometric verification and there will be full transparency in deployment of funds,” she added.

Since April 9, 2020, Rs 106.8 billion have been disbursed for categories I-III among more than 87 million families countrywide. The Ehsaas Information Portal has been made online to give real time updates about the number of beneficiaries served in each of the three with provincial, district and tehsil-wise breakdowns.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


Amin Ahmed Updated May 22, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Global human development — which can be measured as a combination of the world’s education, health and living standards — could decline this year for the first time since 1990, warns the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its report released on Thursday.

The ‘2020 Human Development Perspectives — Covid-19 and Human Development: Assessing the impact, envisioning the recovery’ notes that declines in fundamental areas of human development are being felt across most countries — rich and poor — in every region.

The drop in human development is expected to be much higher in developing countries which are less able to cope with the pandemic’s social and economic fallout than richer nations.

The Covid-19 pandemic is unleashing a human development crisis hitting hard all of human development’s constitutive elements: income, health and education. The economic shock can hit countries before the health shock, through income effects, and persist after the health crisis is over, it says.

The crisis is a stark reminder that humanity is unlikely to stay healthy in the sickening planet. But the crisis showed the potential of humans to act collectively to address a shared global challenge. The response was spotty, fragmented and incoherent, but virtually everywhere billions of people changed their behaviour to face a common threat.

The pandemic was superimposed on unresolved tensions between people and technology, between people and the planet, between the haves and the have-nots. These tensions were already shaping a new generation of inequalities — pertaining to enhanced capabilities, the new necessities of the twenty-first century.

In education, with schools closed and stark divides in access to online learning, UNDP estimates show that 86 per cent of children in primary education are now effectively out-of-school in countries with low human development — compared with just 20pc in countries with very high human development.

With school closures, UNDP estimates of the “effective out-of-school rate” — the percentage of primary school-age children, adjusted to reflect those without internet access — indicate that 60pc of children are not getting education, leading to global levels not seen since the 1980s, the UNDP report underlines.

“But with more equitable internet access — where countries close the gap with leaders in their development group something feasible — the current gaps in education could close,” it adds.

To assess the crisis, the UNDP report draws from original simulations that are based on an adjusted Human Development Index — with the education dimension modified to reflect the effects of school closures and mitigation measures — and that incorporate current projections of gross national income (GNI) per capita for 2020. The simulations suggest conditions today would correspond to a steep and unprecedented decline in human development.

The report says that countries, communities and groups already lagging in enhanced capabilities will be particularly affected, and leaving them further behind will have long-term impacts on human development. As far as the focus on people’s enhanced capabilities, is concerned, this could reconcile apparent tradeoffs between public health and economic activity but would also help build resilience for future shocks, according to the report.

Since the crisis has multiple interconnected dimensions of health, economic and several social aspects, decisions on the allocation of fiscal resources that can either further locking or break free from carbon intensive production and consumption, a systemic approach — rather than a sector-by-sector sequential approach — is essential, it says.

The report notes that in the absence of a vaccine or therapeutics, most of the measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 have been non-pharmaceutical interventions. The strategy of reducing contagion aims not just to protect the most vulnerable populations, but also to avoid excessive pressure on health systems. Even countries with high numbers of hospital beds per 1,000 people can see health services become overwhelmed during the peak of a pandemic.

The report says that one of the cruelest forms of disempowerment is gender-based violence — it magnifies inequalities and reflects traditional social norms that legitimise harassment and discrimination. More than a third of women – and more than two-thirds in some countries — have experienced physical or sexual violence inflicted by a non-partner, it adds.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2020



By RECORDER REPORT on May 13, 2020

The Government of Pakistan, the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in collaboration with the Pakistan Post Office Department, have announced an emergency cash assistance initiative benefiting the most vulnerable refugee families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan, said a press release issued on Tuesday.

The emergency cash is similar to the federal government’s Ehsaas emergency cash programme, where vulnerable families receive Rs12,000 to cover a four-month period.

The emergency assistance will help the eligible refugee families to meet their urgent needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UNHCR Deputy Representative in Pakistan, Iain Hall, and the Chairman/Director General of Pakistan Post Office Department, Akhlaque Rana, signed an agreement for the disbursement of the emergency cash grants.

The Federal Minister for SAFRON, Mehboob Sultan, the Secretary for SAFRON, Muhammad Aslam Kamboh, and the Chief Commissioner for Afghan Refugees, Saleem Khan, fully supported this initiative.

Over the past weeks, the UNHCR and the Commissi-onerate for Afghan Refugees, with the collaboration of partners, volunteers and refugee community leaders, have carried out vulnerability assessments to identify the most needy refugee families.

Those eligible for the emergency assistance include refugees with disabilities or serious medical conditions, as well as single parents.

Hall said that many thousands of vulnerable refugees lost their only source of income in the current coronavirus outbreak.

“UNHCR is very concerned by the growing destitution of refugee families who solely depend on daily wages. We hope that this emergency assistance will help the most vulnerable get through this health pandemic,” said Hall.

He added that the UNHCR will initially target 36,000 refugee families, noting that if additional donor funds are secured, the humanitarian support will be expanded to many more needy families.-PR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


May 12, 2020

ISLAMABAD: As many as Rs 91.611 billion have been distributed to 7.512 million families in one month under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme with Rs 1.961 billion distributed among 163,419 families in the ongoing third and final phase of the programme.

According to Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, so far, 2.945 million category 2 beneficiaries have been served Ehsaas Emergency Cash worth Rs 35.347 billion and payments are still ongoing. Category-2 recipients had applied for financial assistance through SMS service that closed on April 19, 2020 and their eligibility is being ascertained through the databases of the National Socioeconomic Registry 2010 and 2020.

Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social safety said, the emergency cash transfers are providing purchasing power to labour class to buy food rations and meet their needs.

Payments to category 1 that includes regular Kafaalat beneficiaries have almost been completed with Rs. 54.303 billion paid out to 4.403 million beneficiaries.

Cumulatively, so far, 7.512 million deserving families under categories I, II and III of Ehsaas Emergency Cash program have collected financial assistance of Rs.12,000 each that sums up to roughly Rs. 91.611 billion.  This amount has been disbursed among the daily wagers, piece-rate workers and labourers till May 11, 2020 since the beginning of the payment operation under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program on April 9. “Avoiding long queues and overcrowding, Ehsaas has set up more than 10,000 payment sites across the country aiming to facilitate safe and fully biometric payments worth Rs. 144 billion to 12 million deserving families,” an official statement said.

According to provincial and regional breakdown available on the online Ehsaas disbursements portal, as of May 11, an amount of Rs.17.229 billion has been distributed among 1.393 beneficiaries of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Rs. 38.498 billion among 3.161 million beneficiaries in Punjab and Rs.29.025 billion among 2.401 million beneficiaries in Sindh.

Till today, an amount of Rs.1.578 billion has been disbursed among 126,414 beneficiaries in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Rs. 4.277 billion among 349,517 beneficiaries of Balochistan, Rs. 0.649 billion among 50,834 beneficiaries in Gilgit-Baltistan and Rs.0.353 among 29,058 beneficiaries of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).—SARDAR SIKANDER SHAHEEN


By Aamir Khan Published: May 12, 2020

KARACHI: Where the coronavirus lockdown has rendered hundred and thousands of people unemployed across Sindh, several in Karachi have started looking for temporary employment opportunities to make ends meet in times of uncertainty. A few of these people, either small business owners or workers in small businesses, have remained unable to receive adequate relief or financial help for various reasons, leaving them with little option but to fend for themselves.

Neighbourhoods across the city are seeing a sudden increase in the number of fruit and vegetable hawkers, as many looking for temporary employment have started renting carts and taking to the streets to work as produce sellers. However, this has led to a new supply and demand issue in the street-markets, where there are more sellers than customers and yet the prices have remained at an all-time-high given the decreased purchasing power of the people.

On the other hand, several fruit and vegetable sellers who have been associated with the business for decades have expressed their resentments about the city’s markets being inundated with competition in a thinning customer base.

“In areas where there would be five to 10 vegetable and fruit sellers, the number has now gone to 20 to 25. This has created a trend of competition. Temporary vegetable and fruit sellers try to sell their goods at a lower profit, so they sell fruits and vegetables at higher prices in the morning and lower prices in the evening,” expressed Abdul Majeed, an old hand at the trade.

According to Danish Teymouri, as a goldsmith, the lockdown had severely affected his business and left him and his workers on their beam-ends.

“We business owners aren’t eligible for most aid and relief packages, plus I had my staff to cater to as well. So after some consultation and contemplation, I decided to buy a dozen carts and start selling fruits and vegetables. I gave one cart to each worker and now they buy produce at wholesale rates and sell it in various parts of the city till 5pm every day,” he explained. “In this way, each cart earns me around Rs1,000 to Rs1,500, out of which I keep half and distribute the other half among my workers. It’s not much but it’s enough to put food on our tables until our actual business is restored.”

Similarly, Mohammad Basharat, a Kashmiri man who works at a tea hotel, said that the extended lockdown has put many tea-houses and dhabas out of business in the last couple of months. Basharat, who unlike his fellow workers neither had the funds to travel back home or buy vegetables, has taken temporary employment with an existing vendor in his area. “I got a cart for Rs100 day from a scrap dealer and now sell fruits and vegetable for local dealers from 11am to 5pm, which earns me around s500 a day,” he shared.

Much like Basharat, Sheikh Rahim, a young barbecue worker, too has been forced to pause his profession and join the new troupe of vegetable and fruit sellers under the current economy.

“My hotel’s been shut for almost two months now. Besides that, people don’t have the purchasing power to buy meat right now and find it easier to buy vegetables and pulses instead, which are relatively cheaper. I had a chingchi rickshaw which we used for buying and transporting hotel goods. But since the hotel’s shut, I have started selling fruits and vegetables on the rickshaw to survive in this economy,” he narrated.

Muhammad Ibrahim Qureshi, a scrap dealer, told The Express Tribune that scrap-work has mostly been suspended due to the lockdown. Instead, the majority of his income the past couple of months has come from renting carts to the new vegetable and fruit sellers who have emerged in the city. “We have some 80 to 100 carts which I have been renting for Rs100 a day to make ends meet. However, the excess demand has created a severe shortage of carts in the city and new carts which would once sell for Rs10,000 to Rs12,000 are now being sold for as much as Rs15,000,” Qureshi informed.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th,  2020.



More than Rs 96 billion have been distributed among over 7.9 million families under the ongoing Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme that aims to provide Rs 12,000 each to 12 million deserving families whose livelihoods are adversely affected with the outbreak of coronavirus across Pakistan.

According to the data issued by Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, Rs 96.4916 billion were distributed till Wednesday morning among 7,918,457 deserving beneficiaries under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

The break-up of the funds distribution suggests, Rs 41.1917 billion have been distributed among 3,385,885 beneficiaries in Punjab, Rs 30.2023 billion among 2,499,374 beneficiaries in Sindh, Rs 17.9739 billion among 1,455,465 beneficiaries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Rs 4.4935 billion among 367,402 families in Balochistan, Rs 1.5914 billion among 127,467 beneficiaries in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Rs 0.6668 billion among 52,247 beneficiaries in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Rs 0.3719 have been distributed among 30,617 beneficiaries in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

Under category-I of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, Rs 54.5440 billion were distributed since April 9 among 4,422,824 beneficiaries of Kifaalat Programme. Under category-II, Rs 36.1444 billion have been distributed among 3,012,033 beneficiaries identified through Short Messaging Service (SMS). Under Category III Rs 5.8032 billion have been distributed among 483,600 beneficiaries identified through district administrations concerned. The distribution of cash under category II and III is ongoing.

The federal cabinet has earmarked Rs200 billion to financially support the deserving population affected by lockdown measures taken by the federal government to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Out of these funds, Rs144 billion are being spent to provide Rs12,000 each to 12 million families under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme. Each family eligible for financial assistance under this programme would be provided at once Rs12,000 on the basis of four-monthly assistance of Rs3,000 per month.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated May 16, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on Friday set aside Rs75 billion for distribution among labourers and daily wage earners through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

This is part of the Prime Minister’s Relief Package of Rs200bn for labourers and daily wage earners that was earlier to be coordinated by the Ministry of Industries and Production and Commerce through industries and business houses for not laying off workers.

A meeting of the ECC, presided over by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, also approved the mechanism for the Emergency Cash Assistance (Criteria and Mechanism) to workers whose livelihoods have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mechanism for emergency cash assistance to workers whose livelihoods have been affected by pandemic approved

Modalities of the disbursement were worked out by Finance Division, Poverty Alleviation Division and the BISP. The BISP board has approved that in order to identify beneficiaries for the Ehsaas Labour (Category-IV) the eligibility criteria used for Category–III of Ehsaas Emergency Cash would be used. The verification process would be based on BISP’s survey record and national registration data of Nadra.

The applications will be received only through Ehsaas Labour portal for inclusion of beneficiaries in Category-IV. The cash disbursement of Rs12000 (one-time assistance) will be made to eligible applicants through existing payment mechanism of the BISP. The four provinces, AJK, GB and ICT will be allocated the quota in Ehsaas Labour assistance in accordance with their population.

On May 3, the prime minister had announced that funds collected through Covid-19 Pandemic Relief Assistance Fund 2020 would be used to assist the labourers and daily wage workers whose livelihoods had been badly hit by the lockdown.

On that occasion, the prime minister also announced that funds would be disbursed through the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme. The prime minister also announced that for every rupee donated, the government would match Rs4 in the fund. The budget envelope of Rs75 billion released to BISP out of Rs200 billion earmarked in the PM’s relief package for distribution among workers in the country would be used for the purpose, the finance ministry said.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2020



The newly-added category-IV of ongoing Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme to provide financial assistance to those who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus in Pakistan would start Monday (May 18).

Till Friday, more than 3.4 million applications were registered at the Prime Minister’s Labour Portal. The application forms for the category-IV of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme can be accessed from the Prime Minister’s Office’s official website, according to Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division.

Under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, Rs144 billion are being spent to provide Rs12,000 each to 12 million deserving families. Each family eligible for financial assistance under this programme has been/is being given one-time payment of Rs12,000 on the basis of four-monthly assistance of Rs 3,000 per month.

Till May 14, according to the data issued by Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, Rs 54.67 billion were distributed since April 9 among 4,433,053 beneficiaries of the Kifaalat Programme under category-I of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

Under category-II, Rs 36.57 billion have been distributed among 3,047,802 beneficiaries identified through Short Messaging Service (SMS). Under Category III, Rs 9.81 billion have been distributed among 817,816 beneficiaries identified through the district administrations concerned.

The distribution of cash under category II and III is ongoing.

Moreover, till May 14, Rs 101.622 billion were distributed among 8,298,671 deserving beneficiaries under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

Out of them, Rs 43.2814 billion were distributed among 3,559,788 beneficiaries in Punjab, Rs 31.2426 billion among 2,585,982 beneficiaries in Sindh, Rs 19.2136 billion among 1,558,532 beneficiaries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Rs 4.6446 billion among 379,940 families in Balochistan, Rs 1.6017 billion among 128,289 beneficiaries in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Rs 0.6972 billion among 54,763 beneficiaries in the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), and Rs 0.3811 billion among 31,377 beneficiaries in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), as of May 14.

The federal cabinet has earmarked a total of Rs 200 billion to financially support the deserving population affected by lockdown measures taken by the federal government to stop the spread of coronavirus including Rs 144 allocated for Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme. The remaining Rs 56 billion have been allocated as a standby arrangement to financially support the labour class in case the number of those seeking assistance under Ehsaas Emergency cash Programme exceed 12 million.

The federal government has also launched Ehsaas Emergency Cash Transfers initiative that aims to provide financial assistance mainly to labourers and other deserving population who have lost their livelihood in the backdrop of the rapid spread of coronavirus across the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



Jamal Shahid May 04, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The World Economic Forum has recognised Pakistan’s efforts to continue with its plantation drive and creating employment during the coronavirus pandemic.

This is the second time it has acknowledged Pakistan for planting trees to fight impacts of climate change.

The forum engages political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

In a short video, the forum shows how Pakistan has engaged out of work labourers, including construction workers, to plant saplings and earn $3 a day enough to feed their families and help keep the economy running during the lockdown.

The forum points out that tens of thousands of new ‘jungle jobs’ have been created and rows of tiny seedlings planted that if cared for will grow into huge forests.

Pakistan has engaged out of work labourers to plant saplings, World Economic Forum says

Workers have to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Pakistan is aiming to plant 10 billion trees to reduce the damage caused by impacts of climate change. It has suffered some of Asia’s worst deforestation, the forum said, adding Pakistan is among countries most vulnerable to its devastating impacts.

From river floods caused by Pakistan’s melting glaciers, severe droughts and unprecedented and unpredictable rains, climate change has already cost the country $3.8 billion since 1998.

Trees strengthen riverbanks and protect against soil erosion decreasing risks of flooding and mitigating effects of global warming.

The forum also recognised Prime Minister Imran Khan whose party planted one billion saplings while in power in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province from 2013 to 2018.

In KP alone, more than 40 species of trees were planted and the project has already exceeded its target of one billion trees.

The forum said the project goes far beyond the money spent, protecting a region of future generations and creating a whole new habitat for wildlife. The forum encouraged all other countries to learn from Pakistan by tackling adverse effects of climate change by planting trees.

The Ten Billion Tree Tsunami is a Rs125 billion project aimed at expanding forest cover at all available spaces over five years, including increasing urban forestry, which has become a popular trend to fight heatwaves generated by concrete jungles that cities have become.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2020


The Newspaper’s Staff Correspondent Updated May 04, 2020

QUETTA: Balochistan Finance Minister Zahoor Ahmed Buledi has said that the provincial government has set aside Rs765 million for providing assistance to the families affected by the lockdown imposed to stop coronavirus from spreading in the province.

Speaking at a ration distribution ceremony, the minister said the government was taking steps to lessen effects of coronavirus and providing maximum funds from its own resources to help the families affected by the lockdown.

He said arrangements for distribution of ration among poor families continued in all 33 districts of Balochistan.

District Nazims, leaders of political parties, public representatives and local government officials were also involved in the process, he said, adding that essential food items were being distributed without any discrimination or political affiliation.

Mr Buledi said that Rs12,000 per family were being provided to the deserving under the Ehsaas Cash Programme of the federal government in the province.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2020


A Correspondent May 05, 2020

QUETTA: A local NGO with the aid of UN’s World Food Programme is providing cash assistance of Rs8, 500 to families in Balochistan’s most impoverished district, Washuk.

According to a press release issued on Saturday, the vast and barren Washuk district has very low livelihood opportunities for its people and lately has been imperilled by drought and the new coronavirus pandemic due to which the border it shares with Iran has been closed resulting in severe economic decline in the area.

NGO Azat Foundation’s project “Relief to Drought and Covid-19-affected Population of Balochistan” is facilitating the needy families in the form of cash assistance in two cycles through UBL Omni distribution centres at Kharan and Basima cities and also includes women, disabled and elderly people. Under this project, approximately Rs 130 million would be distributed in more than 5,100 households.

According to their statement, the distribution centers are designed in compliance with the Covid-19 government guidelines where the beneficiaries are kept at a safe-distance for biometric verification and cash receipt. The counters are also equipped with hand sanitisers and hand washing facilities.

The purpose of selecting facilitation modality as “cash assistance” are several according to the foundation. Firstly, it directly assists individual households to meet their domestic needs.

Secondly, costs associated with cash assistance is much less as compared to any other assistance such as food packages because ensuring quality control of food packages, their transportation from warehouse to distribution point, taking food packages from distribution points to households is quite hectic, challenging and difficult, the foundation said.

And finally, from cash assistance, an individual needs are fulfilled according to his or her requirement as compared to food packages which tend to have more than the required quantity of food items than the actual requirement due to standardisation.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2020


Ishaq Tanoli May 05, 2020

KARACHI: The provincial authorities on Monday informed the Sindh High Court that under extraordinary circumstances steps were taken to mitigate the financial crisis and protect the sustenance of workers and labourers during the ongoing lockdown.

The home and labour departments filed comments in around 15 petitions filed by different industrialists against the provincial government for barring them from laying off their workers and employees.

The provincial authorities submitted that the manufacturing units, which remained closed, were under consideration for tax relaxations, etc.

When the petitions of the industrialists as well as a petition against laying off of workers by private establishments came up for hearing before a two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, both the provincial home and labour departments filed comments.

They submitted that Covid-19 was a global pandemic and the governments around the world had taken stringent efforts to contain the spread and the Sindh government in consultation with health experts also decided to enforce the lockdown.

The provincial government felt the responsibility to mitigate the financial crisis arising thereof and decided to protect the sustenance of lower socio-economical strata of the society like labourers and workers and restrictions were imposed on all the employing entities to refrain them from laying off their workers during the lockdown and to ensure provision of their salaries/wages in full, they maintained.

The provincial authorities further submitted that under the extraordinary circumstances, it was our national duty and in accordance with the teachings of Islam to extend support to the needy and poor.

The bench took the comments on record and directed the counsel for petitioners to file rejoinder, if any, before the next hearing.

The additional advocate general said that the same comments would be adopted by the provincial authorities in all connected petitions.

However, a lawyer for the petitioner, who moved the SHC against laying off of workers and employees by the private establishments during the ongoing lockdown in violation of the orders issued by the provincial government, pointed out that he had also made the employer federation of Pakistan as respondent.

The industrialists submitted that in order to prevent spread of any epidemic disease, the government was empowered to take any remedial step under the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act, including lockdown, social distancing or barring religious congregations, but it had no power to restrain the petitioner from exercising rights to lay off, retrench, close or any other right available under the Sindh Terms of Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 2016.

Another division bench of the SHC on Monday upheld the life imprisonment to two men in a kidnapping for ransom case.

An antiterrorism court had sentenced Imran Ahsan alias Sunny and Mohammad Zubair to life term in 2015 and 2018 for abducting Khurram Javed in October 2008 and releasing him after collecting a ransom of Rs1 million.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2020



ISLAMABAD. As part of relief assistance and goodwill gesture by the people of Japan to respond to the coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan, an international Japanese NHO, KnK (Kokkyoinaki Kodomotachic, Children without Borders) has stepped forward to provide emergency support to the deserving families in Mansera, which is one of the most seriously Covid-19 affected districts in K-P after Pewshawar and Mardan.

This emergency support, provided by KnK on behalf of the Japanese people, has a scale of JPY 711,500 (PKR 1,077,500) and 165 families in villages of Haripur district have been provided one month food rations along with sanitation kits.

Besides providing financial support to the vulnerable families in targeted areas, KnK has initiated a hygiene awareness campaign in the village communities to sensitise them about the threat of Covid-19. The teams have also sanitized houses, roads and mosques in the area. School children were also trained on how to better protect themselves from the coronavirus.


By RECORDER REPORT on May 7, 2020

Mayor Karachi Wasim Akhtar on Wednesday feared that the poor and jobless people would take to streets if the lockdown continued for long.

He said that prolonged closure of business activities might have huge impacts on the society if a prudent economic policy is not adopted to help the poor and jobless people during lockdown.

Addressing a “Tohfa-e-Ramazan” event in Federal B area, Akhtar said that

“Khidmat-e-Khalq” (serving the people) is in the blood of Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation volunteers and they would continue serving the people without any discrimination. He said that Covid-19 affected the entire world and those who are helping the needy people are commendable.

Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Works Committee Chairman Hassan Naqvi, Parks Committee Chairman Khurram Farhan and a large number of volunteers of Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation were also present on this occasion.

“Just lockdown is not a solution to the problem as the people should also be given ration and essential commodities. The people might remain safe from coronavirus by staying at homes but could die for want of food,” he added. Akhtar was of the view that the Sindh government’s efforts are limited to verbal statements as it doesn’t have even data of the needy people, adding that elected local government representatives of the city had not been taken on board on measures to combat the coronavirus. “We have data at UC level and UC Chairmen are well aware of local issues and could play vital role in the current circumstances but unfortunately they are not being utilized,” said Akhtar.

He said that they have been providing not only ration but also Iftar from Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation’s platform. The KKF volunteers are ensuring provision of Iftar to the needy people at their doorsteps in New Karachi, Lines Area, Mehmoodabad, Federal B Area and other localities. He also expressed gratitude to philanthropists for supporting this great cause. On the occasion, Akhtar himself made Iftar items and handed over Iftar boxes to volunteers.

He said that death of Dr Furqan in an ambulance had exposed tall claims of the provincial government. To a query of media person, the mayor said that emergency has been declared in hospitals under administrative control of the KMC in the wake of heatwave alert and presence of doctors is being ensured for 24 hours to cope with any situation. He also requested the citizens to remain at their homes and avoid unnecessary going out during the heatwave.

Speaking on KMC employees’ salary issue, Akhtar said that Sindh government had announced 15 per cent increment in salaries of the government employees but 13,000 servants of the KMC are deprived of the same. “There is a shortfall of Rs8 to 10 billion every month and I have approached Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah but all in vain,” he said.

The mayor was of the view that the Sindh government had ‘paralysed’ the KMC by keeping its all revenue generating departments.

“The KMC employees are deprived of increment even on the eve of Ramazan and Eid-ul-Fitr,” he concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated May 08, 2020

RAWALPINDI: Employees of the metro bus service on Thursday staged a protest in front of Rawalpindi Press Club for nonpayment of their salaries for three months.

Punjab Mass Transit Authority (PMTA) has outsourced issuance of tickets and other jobs to a private company, Inbox. But the company has not paid salaries to the employees.

More than 50 employees gathered outside the press club and chanted slogans against PMTA for not pressing the private company to pay their salaries.

They said during the lockdown the government was paying salaries to its employees but had failed to ensure the pays of employees working with private companies. When contacted, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Service Operations Manager Shamaila Mohsin told Dawn that they had cleared all payments to Inbox and it was the responsibility of the company to pay salaries to its employees.

She said for the smooth flow of the metro bus service the PMTA had outsourced the works, adding drivers, ticketing staff, security guards and sanitation staff were not the direct employees of the authority.

It is not the responsibility of the authority to interfere in the internal matters of private companies, she added.

She said the authority could do anything and it had no authority to ask private companies to pay salaries to their staff. However, she said the PMTA could impose a fine on the company if any work assigned to it was not complete.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2020


By Kashif Hussain Published: May 7, 2020

KARACHI: Over the years, Karachi has seen the consistent influx of immigrants from not just other parts of the country but also outside it. Today, this population of foreign immigrants is a heterogeneous concoction of Burmese, Bengali and Afghan people, among others, numbering around 1.6 million. Most of them, lacking any identification documents, are labelled ‘illegal aliens,’ living in abject conditions.

These unregistered aliens witnessed their already difficult lives, ridden with poverty, take a further hit as the government imposed a lockdown after the coronavirus reared its head in the country. Lockdown meant no work, depriving them of whatever little they earned through hard labour. What added to their predicament was the exclusion from relief initiatives introduced by the government and non-profit organisations, most of them requiring beneficiaries to produce identity documents to avail the aid.

As a result, they continue to suffer in poverty and destitution, with no means of help to survive these challenging times.

According to an estimate, these identity-less residents are spread over 60 neighbourhoods of the metropolis, a majority working as fishermen, scavengers and daily-wage workers. They are mostly concentrated in Ibrahim Hyderi, Rehri Goth, Machhar Colony, Musa Colony and slums in the vicinity of Lyari River, while a segment of them are homeless and reside under bridges.

Since the lockdown came into effect, they have found themselves in a quandary.

They are threatened with hunger as commercial activities remain largely suspended during the lockdown, keeping them out of work, and seeking assistance is conditional to having the identity documents that they lack.

Besides daily-wage workers and fishermen who have lost their livelihoods, around 200,000 Afghan scavengers have also witnessed a setback due to reduction in garbage production in the city.

It is estimated that 14,000 tonnes of garbage was generated in Karachi every day prior to the lockdown. This was a means for survival for illegal Aghan immigrants, who would scavenge though it and collect recyclable items.

Approximately 70 per cent of this waste was generated by commercial entities including markets, eateries and industries. However, with restrictions on these entities, the amount of waste generated has drastically reduced, posing a dilemma for these scavengers.

Furthermore, being deprived of aid under various initiatives, including the government’s flagship Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, these immigrants are fighting not just poverty, but also depression.

According to social worker Rana Asif Habib, neither the federal, nor the provincial government has initiated any relief programme to provide assistance to unregistered residents.

“Their biggest problem is the lack of identity documents… and they are already deprived of education, health and other basic facilities. The lockdown has [simply] made life worse for them,” he said.

He called for the Centre and the provincial government to devise a plan for providing assistance to them so “that their human needs can be met during this difficult situation.”


By APP Published: May 8, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Balochistan Minister for Social Welfare and Non Formal Education, Mir Assad Ullah Baloch on Wednesday said the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of the poor people of Balochistan in many ways.

“Following the lockdown, trade activities have come to a halt, casting a large population into penury,” he said, adding that in Balochistan only 250,000 people have government jobs and the rest depend directly or indirectly on cross border-trade.

“Balochistan province, with its 75% of sea shore, makes up around 50% of the land mass of the country, while its population remains only 12.30 million. Its scattered population, poor means of communication, fragile and limited health facilities have further aggravated the situation,” Baloch said. “Around 71% of population lives below the poverty line and 80% of the population was deprived of health facilities in Balochistan. Only 20% people in the province have access to safe drinking water as compared to 86%in the rest of the country.”

The minister also said, traffic deaths remain much higher due to unavailability of dual carriage roads. “In the last two decades the share of allocation by the National Highway Authority for the province has remained below 10% of the total allocation. Similarly, the province could not get its due share in external development financing.”

It is pertinent to note that during 2017-18 the country received a whopping amount of Rs.334 billion, while the province got only 1.6% of this amount for development projects.

Baloch went on to say that the geostrategic importance of Balochistan; the deep seaport of Gwadar which has turned the whole dream of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into a reality still awaits substantial development. “The people in Gwadar and the rest of Balochistan still live in utter poverty and destitute. Similarly, Balochistan was not getting a fair share in federal government jobs. There are more than 500,000 employees in federal autonomous bodies and at least 6% of them should have been from Balochistan.”.

Urging Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said that, “your vision and commitment to build Pakistan a welfare and prosperous state  and your vision of a welfare, egalitarian and just system to ensure peace, justice, rights for deprived people, rule of law, universal health and education facilities for all citizens of the country was certainly a welcoming initiative.”

The provincial minister urged that, this will help usher the country into a new era of prosperity, peace and development. “Keeping in view the hardships suffered by the poor and resource-less people of this province, a generous package of Rs100 billion should be apportioned for Balochistan to support its faltering economy and enable the provincial government cope with the challenges emanating from covid-19.”

There were no industries in the province except in district Lasbela. Besides, the frail private sector in the province is too weak to address the ever-burgeoning unemployment in the province.

The only ray of hope for the masses is government sector to ease their hardships and sufferings.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th,  2020.



Some Rs 89.143 billion had been distributed among 7.307 million deserving families till Friday as the federal government launched the third and final phase of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

Alongside the third phase, payments to category-2 beneficiaries who entered the programme through 8171 SMS service are also underway, Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division said in a statement.

In the first phase of this programme, which ended on April 16, some 4,154,724 people already registered under Kifaalat Programme, were provided cash assistance.

In the second phase, four million persons registered through National Socioeconomic Database, at the government’s designated Short Messaging Service (SMS) are being provided cash assistance.

In the third and last phase of the two-week drive, 3.5 million applicants registered through web portal and district administrations concerned with the assistance of the relevant union councils throughout the country, would be provided cash assistance.

According to the data recently shared by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar, the federal government received the requests from a total of 48,285,623 Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) for financial assistance under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, out of which 38,018,83 were found to be government employees and declared ineligible for the financial assistance, 2,659,199 were invalid CNICs, 4,154,724 are category-I beneficiaries, 4,000,000 CNICs are category-II beneficiaries and 33,669,817 CNICs are category-III beneficiaries whose CNICs are being sent to provinces for verification.

The registration for Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme closed on April 19. Since April 9, the distribution of Rs144 billion to provide cash assistance to the downtrodden segments of the society has been ongoing countrywide under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme to support those whose livelihood have been adversely affected with the outbreak of the coronavirus in Pakistan.

The federal cabinet recently earmarked Rs200 billion to financially support the deserving population affected by lockdown measures taken by the federal government to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Out of these funds, Rs144 billion are being spent to provide Rs12,000 each to 12 million families under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme. Each family eligible for financial assistance under this programme would be provided at once Rs12,000 on the basis of four-monthly assistance of Rs3,000 per month.

The remaining Rs56 billion have been allocated as a standby arrangement to meet the financial expenditure in case the number of those in need of financial/humanitarian assistance exceeds the estimated number of 12 million families.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


By NAVEED BUTT on May 9, 2020

The federal government has released Rs 541.63 billion (77.3 percent) including Rs 109.29 billion foreign aid (85 percent) for various ongoing and new development projects under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2019-2020 against the total budgeted allocation of Rs701 billion.

According to the latest data of the PSDP 2019-2020 released by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms on Friday, the government released Rs233.78 billion (76.56 percent) including Rs15 billion foreign aid for development projects of various ministries, divisions and related departments out of Rs305.36 billion budgeted allocation. The government also released a total of Rs180.43 billion (92 percent) including Rs88.89 billion (98 percent) foreign aid, out of Rs90.588 billion for development budget of corporations; Rs159.72 billion including Rs73.8 billion foreign aid for the projects of the National Highways Authority (NHA); and Rs20.7 billion including Rs15.07 billion foreign aid for National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC)/Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO).

The ministry released a total of Rs43.49 billion (94 percent) including Rs4.48 billion foreign aid out of Rs44.54 billion budgeted allocation for development projects of special areas; Rs26.89 billion including Rs3.15 billion foreign aid for development projects of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK); and Rs16.6 billion including Rs1.3 billion foreign aid for Gilgit-Baltistan for financial year 2019-2020. The government released Rs9 billion including Rs1.77 billion foreign aid out of Rs11.25 billion for development projects of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Division. A total of Rs30.18 billion out of Rs46.99 billion have been released for the Cabinet Division. The government released Rs38.49 billion for security enhancement against Rs53 billion budgeted allocation for financial year 2019-2020.

The Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms released Rs10.76 billion for development projects of the Railways Division against Rs15 billion budgeted allocation, Rs2.19 billion for development projects of Science and Technology Research Division, Rs8.22 billion for National Food Security, and Research Division.

The ministry said Rs3.67 billion have been released for development projects of the Federal Education and Professional Training Division out of Rs4.5 billion budgeted allocation, and Rs27 billion including Rs132.31 million foreign aid have been released out of Rs28.65 billion for the development projects of the Higher Education Commission.

The ministry released a total of Rs72.67 billion for Water Resources Division including Rs5.78 billion foreign and Rs301.47 million for Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

The government has released Rs8.22 billion out of Rs11.3 billion for National Food Security and Research Division.

A total of Rs7.5 billion has been released for development projects of Climate Change Division.

The government has released Rs7.72 billion for development projects of Interior Division, Rs4.33 billion for Revenue Division, Rs2.636 billion for Housing and Works Division, Rs7.6 billion for Finance Division, and Rs1.7 billion for Defence Production Division.

A total of Rs23 billion have been released out of Rs48 billion for development project of Merged Areas 10 Years Development Plan, and Rs9.86 billon against Rs24 billion for Merged Districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



ISLAMABAD. The government has started the disbursement of cash payments to the beneficiaries under category-III of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

The beneficiaries of category-III have been selected in coordination with the district administration and at least Rs.61 billion have been distributed among 134,528 deserving people.

According to the statistics of the Ministry for Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Rs91.21 billion until now have been distributed among 7,479,774 beneficiaries.

In category-I, Rs54.28 billion have been disbursed among 4,402,783 recipients, while in category-II, Rs35.30 billion have been given to 2,942,463 beneficiaries. The Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme was initiated on the special instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan on April 9 to facilitate the Poor, daily wagers and labourers facing hardship in the wake of lockdown that had been enforced to stem the spread of coronavirus in the country.

A budget of Rs144 billion had been allocated for the relief package under which 12 million deserving families are being given Rs12,000 each.