As per Prime Minister Imran Khan's vision and under the leadership of Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar. Government of Punjab has launched Punjab Ehsaas Program, which is based on the federal Ehsaas strategy and ensures to provide social & economic protection to the vulnerable groups in Punjab. It aims to expand human development and social protection in Punjab drastically so that poverty eradication, economic empowerment of women, and better health and education outcomes could be achieved. Ehsaas-Punjab will be spearheaded by the Punjab Social Protection Authority (PSPA). It will include current PSPA’s programs as well as new programs worth over Rs. 62 billion, aimed at filling many coverage gaps in social protection.
PSPA has designed bellow mentioned interventions for various vulnerable and marginalized communities for the year 2021-22, as summarized below:
Punjab Social Protection Authority initiated “Sarparast Program”, a social assistance, financial support to the families of the poor and vulnerable widows for improving their well-being and social status. The Sarparast project falls under the second pillar of the Ehsaas Program that is “Safety Net” with an aim to provide effective and comprehensive safety nets for the marginalized and the vulnerable. It also addresses the cross-cutting objective of Ehsaas Strategy that is “Lift Lagging Areas”.
Sarparast program will provide dignified social assistance specially designed for the poor widows of Punjab. The program will help in reducing the rate of poverty amongst beneficiary households, by directly supplementing monthly household income and to reach out to the poor and vulnerable segments of the society. The program will help in developing a feeling of self-reliance and empowerment in widows and their orphan children to live a dignified life. It will also contribute in Human Development Indicators by making the willing widows and their adult orphans skilled through skill development agencies of the Government of the Punjab.
The goal of this program is to improve socioeconomic well-being of the poor widows and their orphans in the Punjab and it has been designed with the following objectives:
- To reduce the rate of poverty amongst beneficiary households by directly supplementing household income
- To decrease the vulnerability and improve the standard of living of targeted beneficiaries
- To provide opportunities for education, health, nutrition, and skill development and sustainable livelihood to the targeted widows and orphans
- To improve gender equality and women empowerment
With an initial outlay of Rs. 2 billion, Sarparast Program for assisting poor widows and orphans will be a key feature of Punjab’s Ehsaas Program. The poor widows, who have not remarried and who meet poverty score-based eligibility criteria will be assisted through this program with a monthly stipend of Rs. 2,000 with top up programs of easy credit and asset transfer.
Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are vulnerable to multiple financial and non-financial shocks and they need the state’s assistance to lead a happy life. Realizing this need, a program with the name “Hamqadam” is being launched with the cost of Rs. 3.5 billion. This program will benefit about 200,000 poor people with disabilities in Punjab up to PMT score of 30. A revolving fund of Rs. 300 million will be established to provide income-generation opportunities to these people through microcredit (Rs. 50,000 per beneficiary) and asset transfer. This program is the continuation of “Conditional Transfer Program” for persons with disabilities. The PSPA will provide Rs. 2,000 monthly for PWDs who are incapacitated or not able to work and Rs. 1,500 monthly for the PWDs who are able to work, as per the assessment of Medical Assessment Boards.
WINGS has been planned for building and sustaining productive assets of the poor by encouraging innovative, indigenous solutions. This program would help women break the fetters of poverty and achieve self-sustenance by utilizing the granted assets. PSPA will establish a competitive challenge fund to pilot, adapt and scale up livelihood packages in varied socioeconomic and geographic contexts. With an outlay of Rs. 700 million in FY 2021-22. The pilot phase of the Program is expected to benefit about 25,000 women in two districts.
Establishment of Punjab Social Protection Fund
PSPA Act 2015 envisages Punjab Social Protection Fund to provide financial sustainability to PSPA. It is planned to establish this fund in 2021-22 with an initial allocation of Rs. 500.00 million.
Provision of Assistive Devices for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)
Assistive devices enable PWDs to live healthy, active, productive, independent and dignified lives. PSPA will initiate a project to improve access of PWDs to the assistive devices with an outlay of Rs. 100.00 million in FY 2021-22.
Empowerment of Religious Minorities:
PSPA in planning to initiate a program for religious minorities to provide skills in order to start small businesses with an outlay of Rs. 200.00 million in FY 2021-22.