Rs 179.8 Billion Disbursed Under EECP: Survey


Rs 179.8 billion disbursed under EECP: Survey

ISLAMABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 10th Jun, 2021 ) :A sum of Rs 179.8 billion has been disbursed as onetime emergency cash assistance to among 14.8 million beneficiaries under Ehasaas Emergency Cash programme (EECP) during the first nine months of current fiscal year 2021 (July-March).

Economic Survey 2021 launched by Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin here on Thursday, said.

In addition to dire health consequences, COVID-19 affected livelihoods at an unprecedented scale; according to estimates, it negatively impacted 160 million people in Pakistan.

Given the family size, this meant helping over 100 million people or half the country's population, representing the largest and most extensive social protection intervention ever in the history of the country. Each family was meant to receive Rs 12,000 for immediate subsistence. Digital capabilities established over the past year as part of Ehsaas, Pakistan's new poverty alleviation frame-work, were adapted to deliver Ehsaas Emergency Cash, in particular, a new biometric payment system, a demand side SMS based request seeking platform and a new wealth profiling big data analytic mechanism.

A hybrid targeting approach was adopted, combining emergency assistance for the known vulnerable with demand-based support for the "new poor". Requests were sought through an 8171 SMS short code service and web-portal. Data analytic enabled eligibility ascertainment, using unique national identification numbers and drawing on the National Socio-Economic Registry and wealth proxies (travel, taxes, billing, assets ownership data and government employment status). The system was end-to-end datadriven, fully automated, rule-based, transparent and politically-neutral. Payments were biometrically verified.

Ehsaas received 139 million requests of which 66 million were unique. 16.9 million individuals were declared eligible; over 14.8 million individuals collected their payments by the closing date on September 30, 2020; by then, Rs 179.221 billion had been disbursed. Payments to those with biometric failure and the next-of-kin of dead beneficiaries continued for a month beyond that date.

Many challenges were encountered during the disbursement process. The largest social protection operation in the country was rolled out with lockdown in effect, public transport suspended and risk of disease spread looming. Additional challenges related to issues of logistics, connectivity, liquidity, cyber-attacks, biometric failures and limitations of data-driven messaging. The government approach, public private synergy and real time evaluation helped to successfully address these challenges swiftly. Fiscal measures were adopted to incentivize retailers to work in a difficult environment; communication measures were taken to address low financial and digital literacy.

Ehsaas Emergency Cash will be an important component of the redesign of social protection, post COVID-19 and will assist in the global re-imagination of social welfare envisaged in Ehsaas. The Ehsaas Strategy has been revamped, post COVID-19 and there is a practical demonstration of increased attention to social protection under the Ehsaas umbrella despite the post-COVID financial constraints (Ehsaas Official 2020).

Furthermore, this programme has also accelerated progress towards achievement of the gender equality and financial inclusion goals within the Ehsaas framework since nearly 54 percent of the recipients were women.

In terms of global experience sharing, the case of Pakistan provides useful lessons for other countries that utilize unique personal identification systems. It shows that by combining phones, internet connectivity, national IDs and commercial payment systems, a digital and innovative demand-based social protection system can be created to enable those in distress to seek social support during crises. Ehsaas Emergency Cash also demonstrated how cash transfer programmes can be deployed to counter socioeconomic fallouts due to external shocks such as COVID-19 which present a long-termpredicament. The approach can also address rising inequality and advance attainmentof SDGs in a post COVID-19 world.