Monday, May 29, 2023

Subsidy Package may not be for Sindh & Balochistan

The people of Sindh and Balochistan may be denied the benefits of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s new initiative to provide some relief amid unprecedented inflation by providing the Ehsaas Rashan subsidy for the next six months because they have refused to contribute their 65 percent share to the Rs120 billion program. In order to maintain their respective 65 percent contributions to the Rs120 billion scheme for the next six months, both provinces have declined to do so.

As part of the Ehsaas Rashan scheme, disadvantaged households will get Rs1,000 in monthly subsidies for each member of the household. The proposed contribution from the federal government to the subsidy is Rs350, while the proposed contribution from the provinces is Rs650.

On November 9, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation, announced that more than 136 million hits (applications) were received in the first 48 hours after launching the program’s portal on that day. She added that out of a total of 136 million applicants, more than one million candidates have been identified as being qualified for the program.

Pulses, wheat flour, and edible oil/ghee are among the consumer commodities that will be accessible at discounted rates for registered persons in utility stores, supermarkets, and thousands of approved general/kiryana stores around the country. An additional Rs22 per kilogram of wheat, Rs105 per kilogram of butterfat, and Rs55 per kilogram of pulses will be provided as subsidies.

The people of Sindh and Balochistan, according to Ms. Nishtar, have refused to contribute to the program, as a result of which the people of both provinces will receive only Rs350 in subsidy (the federal government’s portion) rather than the full Rs1,000 in subsidy. She went on to say that the provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu, and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan had all agreed to donate Rs650 to the scheme.

For the federal administration, Balochistan’s unwillingness to share the subsidy program has been described as “shocking.” The federal government is currently dealing with a “loss of confidence” among its supporters, as well as threats from the opposition to overthrow it because of its “faulty economic policies.”

When it comes to Balochistan, the ruling Baloch Awami Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf are coalition partners, whereas the Pakistan Peoples Party, one of the country’s main opposition parties, is in charge in Sindh. The provinces must contribute Rs85.45 billion to the Rs120 billion subsidy program, with Punjab contributing Rs41.76 billion, KP contributing Rs15.30 billion, Sindh contributing Rs21.46 billion, Balochistan contributing Rs5.14 billion, AJK contributing Rs1.11 billion, and GB contributing Rs5 billion.

A Sindh government spokesman, Saeed Ghani, responded by saying that he was not aware of the provincial government’s stand on this matter. “It’s possible that the chief minister made the choice not to participate in the program, and that decision has not yet been communicated to the lower levels,” he continued.

Liaquat Ali Shehwani, the former spokesman for the Balochistan government, stated he was unaware of the provincial administration’s position on the topic, and that, since the province’s government changed, he had not been informed whether or not he was still the spokesman.

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