Govt decided to give targeted subsidy to low income group


ISLAMABAD: In a bid to provide some relief to the common man amid an unusual price hike in the country, the government has decided to give “targeted” subsidy to the low income group.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday held a meeting with his economic team and high-ups of social safety nets. The meeting discussed several plans to give relief to the poor through the targeted subsidy.

The economic team and relevant officers kept finalising the “relief plan” till late in the night. The plan will be unveiled by the prime minister on Tuesday in the cabinet meeting.

Issuance of ration cards to the low income group was one of the options discussed at the meeting. The cards will enable the holders to purchase basic consumer items like wheat flour, pulses, rice, sugar, ghee/edible oil on subsidised rates.

Asked how the government will identify genuine and deserving people for the subsidy, the source said the data of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and grade1-6 government employees would be obtained and a list of deserving people would be prepared. He said the computerised data of deserving people would be available at all utility stores across the country and whenever a genuine person would go for shopping at these outlets, his thumb impression would be taken and his name would automatically be displayed on the cash counter as a deserving buyer.

The source said that according to one of the options, funds already given to the government flagship programme called Ehsaas could be used to provide subsidy to the USC. Soft loans could also be given to the youth to establish their small grocery shops at the union council level where they would be supplied essential food items directly through mills or USC so that they could match the rates of essential commodities being sold at utility stores.

It said the prime minister was of the view in the Monday’s meeting that the government would provide relief to the low income group at every cost. He was quoted as saying: “The government cannot act like a silent spectator on the pain and sufferings of the people.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) parliamentarians on Monday said that the government would take special steps to curtail prices of essential commodities to provide relief to the people.

Talking to reports outside the Parliament House, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Capital Development Authority (CDA) Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan said inflation was a great challenge for the present government which inherited because of previous governments’ wrong policies and corruption.

“The present government is making efforts to provide maximum relief to the common man,” he added.

Senator Seemi Ezdi said poor people were very close to the heart of PM Khan, adding that prices of essential commodities would come down soon.

MNA Sadaqat Ali Abbasi said the government was taking steps to overcome the inflation and providing special relief to the poor people. He said the government would also expose the mafia behind the wheat and sugar crises in the country. “All this inflation is due to wrong policies of previous governments,” he added.

MNA Sheikh Rashid Shafique said the government would announce special relief package in the cabinet meeting soon. He said the present government was committed to overcome inflation in the country. “Relief stores would be established at each union council,” he revealed.

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