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Event Title: Senate Standing committee on poverty alleviation and social safety

Event Date: 2019-09-27

Senate Standing committee on poverty alleviation and social safety in its meeting on Friday was given a briefing by the poverty alleviation and social safety division about its departments, role and new projects and schemes under the division. The briefing gave details about the scope of Ehsaas program and the multi sector character of the program, the process of formulation of the program, the institutional arrangements and the finding of the program. The committee was told as to how the program will counter the elite capture, provide social safety nets and human capital and create jobs and livelihood opportunities.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini herr at the Parliamnet House and was attended among others by Senators Rukhsana Zuberi, Nighat Mirza, Lt. Gen. (R) Abdul Qayyum, Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Rubina Khalid, Asif Kirmani, Mansoor Ahmed Kakar, Secretary Poverty alleviation and social safety Shaista Sohail, Secretary Benazir Income Support Program, CEO Pakistan Poverty Aleviation Fund and officials form the ministry.

The Committee was told that in order to make the program of addressing malnutrition successful the provincial and federal governments have to work in close coordination with each other as health is a provincial subject and the cases of malnutrition is to be addressed within 100 days of the child’s birth.

Members of the Committee were of the view that instead of taking kids with stunted growth or suffering form malnutrition to general practitioners the matter be dealt with by specialized pediatricians. The matter of disparity between funds of BISP and Pakistan Bait Ul Maal was also pointed out by some members.

The secretary BISP told the meeting that the program has been designed in consultation with reputed international organizations including Bill Gates foundation and before introducing the program for kids with stunted growth and lack of nutrition a pilot study was conducted in Thatta, Sajawal. The committee was told that the last survey was conducted by statistics bureau about the state of poverty in 2015-16 according to which 24.6% Pakistani population is below poverty line and the next survey is in the field at present. The committee was of the view that some statistics say that 500,000 people have gone below poverty line in only the last one year and many have lost employment. Members also asked questions about measures being taken under Ehsaas program for child labor. The Committee was of the view that in the long run this program should also work for empowering the people by giving them skills in addition to giving them financial support in the form of loans in short and medium term.

The Committee was told that the division has non-development budget of 100 million and its attached departments, Pakistan Bait ul Maal has a total of 5,653 million, BISP has 180,000 million and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund has 2,150 million in 2019-20. From a total of 200 million development budget in the PSDP 2019-20 the committee was told that centre of rural economy has 70 million, centre of social entrepreneurship has 50 million, tahafuz pilot project has 20 million, solution challenge program has 60 million.

The Committee was told that under the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, 500 digital hubs are being created along with a financial literacy drive to enable them to stand on their own feet. The program also includes a graduation program, interest free loans and asset transfers for women and increase in size of cash transfer.

The Committee was also given detail of Zakat distribution system in the country.  It was told that in 209-20 so far 9256 million have been collected and 8956 million released to the needy. Last year collected amount was 7382 million with  7377 million of them released. Briefign also held details on the

Trust for voluntary organisations, the platform on which the tahafuz program is being launched and the work done on Informal labor registration.