By Ali Imran
ISLAMABAD: The daily wage workers and laborers from across the country hailed the government decision of extending the last date for the disbursement under the internationally acclaimed Ehsaas Emergency Cash program till end of October to ensure provision of cash amount to those who stand eligible for assistance.
The historic emergency cash program has so far benefited over 15 million families, whose livelihoods were affected during the Coronavirus lockdown, by providing them financial assistance of Rs. 12,000 while those facing bio-metric issues and deaths of beneficiaries were still receiving the payments.
The program launched soon after the pandemic with special focus on transparent selection process for identification of eligible beneficiaries and the digital payment mechanism in the challenging lockdown period became a huge success and emerged as an exemplary and historic relief measure ever taken by any country.
A beneficiary of Ehsaas Emergency Cash program, Rehman Khan, resident of Chagarmathi Peshawar said he has received the financial assistance of Rs 12,000 during COVID-19 which proved a blessing for him after he lost his job during the lockdown.
He said although it was difficult to wait for hours in front of mobile franchise without facilities of shelter and clean drinking water to just collect the payment but this amount meant a lot to him and helped him in time of acute need.
Munazza Shafiq, a mother of four kids who had to move with her family from Jhang to Multan during the lockdown period to live with her mother as she was unable to meet the living expenses of her family after his husband lost his job.
Although she was not certain she will get any response of the SMS she sent for the emergency cash after moving to another place but was surprised to see the message from the government for collection of Rs. 12000 just recently.
She rushed back to Jhang to collect the money. â€œI was happy and excited to receive this amount and it met many of my basic needs,â€ said Munazza adding that things were now returning to normal and hoped her husband would be able to find some work to support the familyâ€ , she said.
Muhammad Yousuf, a daily wager said, he suffered from severe mental stress after losing his job during the lockdown. It was a critical time for him as he was unable to even feed his kids three times a day and meet the other expenses.
The aid received under Ehsaas helped him meet his day to day living expenses in the most difficult time. â€œIt rescued me out of troubled waters,â€ he said adding that the government has won our hearts through launching a much needed relief program. Ms. Hafeez Elahi, who is a widow said, she was unable to feed her kids and manage family expenses during the lockdown period. The cash amount of Rs. 12000 at that time was great relief for my family as it helped in managing family budget.
She said that she did not face any problem in collecting aid from the designated Ehsaas Payment Center where the staff was very cooperative. Sughran Bibi, a widow of Mohammad Sharif, resident of Chak 40-GB Satyana, who visited BISP office, Satyana Road for receiving financial assistance told that she was looking after seven daughters and two sons with disabilities.
She expressed her satisfaction over the cash support and praised the Prime minister Imran Khan for considering the miserable condition of the poor people who suffered the most during the lockdown. She told that she received the cash amount after biometric verification process without any delay and the staff at the payment center was very supportive.
Akram Shah, a driver of a cab hailing service in federal capital said, he could not earn during the lockdown period as the number of customers decreased. It happened for the first time when he was left with no money to pay rent of his house, what to talk of the other expenses.
While waiting for the customers in a corner of a road, I received a message from Ehsaas program about payment collection which was not less than a miracle for me. Some people question the worth of Rs. 12,000 in the period of inflation but to me it was a blessing.
Haji Mushtaq, a beneficiary from Lahore appreciated the efforts of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for taking care of the poor and vulnerable sections of society in the difficult circumstances. He said that he was provided with financial assistance of Rs 12,000 during Covid 19 pandemic when he was struck hard owing to the lockdown and lost his daily wage work. However the cash amount under Ehsaas proved as a blessing for my family in hour of need.
Sharing his experience at Ehsaas Kafalat Center in Cant area, he said that he witnessed the efficient service delivery by the well-trained and cooperative staff of the district government at the payment collection center. â€œSuch initiatives should be continued to help poor overcome their financial difficulties on regular basis,â€ he added.
Another beneficiary Yaqoob Khan, a resident of Nishter Colony terming the facilities at Ehsaas Kafalat Center in Nishter Town as remarkable, said that special arrangements including clean drinking water, sitting, waiting room and shelters besides security were ensured to facilitate the people visiting the centers.
The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) pertaining to Covid-19 were strictly implemented by the district administration to contain spread of virus, he said and added that sms alert system to inform the applicant about his eligibility and payment alert was an effective step to avoid inconvenience for the people.
Mohammad Shaukat Khan of Yakatoot area, Peshawar who sells vegetables on his handcart appreciated the extension in last date for disbursement of emergency cash amount and said this decision created a ray of hope for those who still did not receive their payment.
He said that he applied for the emergency cash assistance but didnâ€™t fulfill the eligibility criteria however he was happy for those who got benefit from this initiative. Ehsaas Emergency Cash program was launched by the Prime Minister, Imran Khan on April 1, 2020 keeping in view the economic hardship being experienced by the vulnerable due to the coronavirus lockdown.