Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday released his policy statement on the government’s programme Ehsas, saying it will turn Pakistan into a welfare state.
He said the programme’s premise was grounded in the importance of strengthening institutions, transparency and good governance.
“Ehsas is about the creation of a ‘welfare state’ by countering elite capture and leveraging 21st century tools — such as using data and technology to create precision safety nets; promoting financial inclusion and access to digital services; supporting the economic empowerment of women; focusing on the central role of human capital formation for poverty eradication, economic growth and sustainable development; and overcoming financial barriers to accessing health and post-secondary education,” the prime minister said.
“The programme is for the extreme poor, orphans, widows, the homeless, the disabled, those who risk medical impoverishment, for the jobless, for poor farmers, for labourers, for the sick and undernourished; for students from low-income backgrounds and for poor women and elderly citizens.”
This programme, he said, was also about lifting the areas where poverty was higher. The poverty reduction strategy of Ehsas is articulated in four pillars and it currently embodies 115 policy actions, which may be expanded as the process of consultations on the programme, further widens, he added.
It has been proposed to legally bind the government to provide food, shelter and basic social services to all the citizens
“The four pillars include addressing elite capture and making the government system work to create equality; safety nets for disadvantaged segments of the population; jobs and livelihoods; and human capital development.”
The programme has proposed to amend the Constitution to legally bind the government to provide food, shelter and basic social services to all the citizens.
He said Rs80 billion would be added to social protection spending in the 2019-20 budget and total incremental increase would be Rs120bn in the 2020-21 budget.
The prime minister said one-window social protection operation will be conducted to assist beneficiaries of social protection and to reduce duplication and abuse.
He said a need-based system in the framework of the new National Finance Commission Award will be introduced besides promoting poverty reduction and addressing inequalities, requires improving mechanisms that regulate allocation of financial resources and creating the right incentives to deliver on services for citizens.
By Syed Irfan Raza