Prime Minister Imran unveils Naya Pakistan Card initiative
Presently Imran Khan formally launched the Naya Pakistan Card initiative, bringing mega welfare programmes of the government of Pakistan covering health, education, food and agriculture sectors under one umbrella. With the launch of Naya Pakistan Card, which covers Ehsaas Ration Programme based on a food subsidy package for low-income families, Kisan Card, Sehat Card and scholarships for students, beneficiaries of many initiatives can avail all services on the same card. According to the statistics, economy of Pakistan rebounded strongly in FY2021 and recorded growth of 3.94 percent which is not only substantially higher than the previous two years (-0.47 and 2.08 percent in FY2020 and FY2019 respectively) but also surpassed the target (2.1 percent for FY2021). Despite strict fiscal constraints, timely and appropriate policy measures taken through the government resulted in a V-Shaped economic recovery. Statistics also showed that Real GDP growth of 3.94 percent in FY2021 is V-shaped economic recovery which shows concerted efforts of government for addressing structural issues to avoid further macroeconomic imbalances. The government of Pakistan also took some immediately requisite measures for sustainable and robust growth along with protecting the most vulnerable segments of the society. Given fiscal constraints, the government had also to address public health issues faced because of pandemic, uplift the weaker segment of society that suffered due to lockdowns and keep the economy moving. Relief provision to vulnerable segments and growth support was government’s utmost priority. However, high interest payments (July-March FY2021 Rs 2.1 trillion ($ 13.1 billion); 4.6 percent of GDP; 32 percent of Total Expenditures) restricted expenditure side from going all out with options, while the fiscal position further became weaker due to sharp decline in non-tax revenues (7.3 percent decline in July-March FY2021 compared to corresponding period last year). Still government has not made any compromise on relief provision to vulnerable segments. In FY2021, allocation for Ehsaas Programme has been increased from Rs 187 billion ($ 1.17 billion) to Rs 208 billion ($1.30 billion) to provide relief to vulnerable segments of society which was affected by pandemic in term of health and livings. Under “Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program”, 14.8 million families were benefited. It was the commitment which also made the Programme globally recognized. Addressing the ceremony held at the Governor House, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Kamyab Pakistan scheme was also in the pipeline under which two million eligible families would receive Rs 400,000 interest-free loans for self-employment, free technical education to one member of each registered family, Rs2.7 million loan for house construction and free health insurance. He said the proposed Kamyab Pakistan programme to be launched in the KP province would be extended to other provinces later. Besides, the government of Pakistan was awarding 6.3m scholarships to students to encourage them to pursue higher education as Rs 47bn had been allocated in this regard. In order to ensure award of scholarships on merit, a special cell was being set up at the PM secretariat to collect students’ data, PM announced. Mr Khan said that the government got two-thirds majority during the previous elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa because of development projects and reforms in different sectors. A UNDP report had also acknowledged reduction in poverty in KP during 2013-18 because of the provincial government initiatives, he added. Prime Minister on the occasion, also distributed cheques among prayer leaders of Jamia mosques under a KP government initiative, among less privileged women under Kifalat programme and scholarship among students under the Ehsaas education programme. Imran said the Punjab government was replicating KP’s model in the health sector and would introduce health insurance programme from January 1 and the entire population of the province would be covered within next 3-month. The government of Balochistan, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan also intended to launch the mega programme. Appreciating the performance of National Command and Operation Centre on Covid-19, Imran Khan urged Pakistan had efficiently tackled the pandemic that severally affected supply chain across the world and caused raise in prices of petroleum, gas and food commodities. Food inflation was a worldwide phenomenon, yet prices of essential commodities were lower than in rest of the world. In this condition, he said the historic Ehsaas food subsidy package worth Rs 120bn would benefit over 20 million families, as 30 percent discount would be given on purchase of ghee, flour and pulses to the families with less than Rs 50,000 monthly income.
The Imran kahan asked Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to direct parliamentarians to visit their constituencies and encourage people to register themselves for ration discount. He also talked about building of 10 new dams in a decade to address the problem of water scarcity and bolster food production.