Pak approves financial relief package over COVID-19 impact

A passenger wearing a face mask leaves a railway station in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Islamabad,  Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved a financial relief package for different segments of society who were vulnerable to the adverse impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the countrys economy, it was reported on Tuesday.

The package was approved on Monday in a meeting chaired by Khan at the Prime Minister Office (PMO), reports Dawn news.

An informed source told Dawn news that it had been decided that the funds of the government’s much ambitious Ehsaas programme would be distributed among the poor according to the available data of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and through the under progress National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) of the BISP.

The BISP is a federal unconditional cash transfer poverty reduction program in the country.

It has also been learnt that not only the amount, but also the number of beneficiaries has been increased under the relief package.

The source further said that under the package the monthly stipend of the BISP has been increased from 2,000 to 3,000 Pakistani rupees.

Presently, the total number of BISP beneficiaries is said to be 5.2 million.

According to the PMO, the overall economic situation of the country was discussed in the backdrop of the adverse impact of the coronavirus outbreak, Dawn news reported.

The meeting reviewed different options for protecting the poor and low-income segments of society from the outbreak’s adverse impact on the economy.

Speaking on the occasion, Khan said that due to present situation the government would go to any extent to protect weak segments of society.

Talking about provision of basic food items to the poor, he directed the authorities concerned to take necessary measures so that no one could take advantage of the situation by involving in wrong practices, such as hoarding.

“There should not be any interruption in supply of food items in markets,” Dawn news quoted Khan as saying.

Speaking to Dawn after the meeting, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said under the package poor and low income groups would be provided monetary assistance through Ehsaas programme.