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May 4, 2019

Labour welfare, social protection expert group notified

Islamabad

May 4, 2019

Islamabad : The Division of Poverty Alleviation and Safety Nets on Friday notified a labour welfare and social protection expert group as a first step to implement ‘Mazdoor-Ka-Ehsaas’, the scheme of Prime Minister’s ‘Ehsaas’ programme.

The first scheme of ‘Ehsaas’ programme called ‘Mazdoor-Ka-Ehsaas’ was announced by the Prime Minister on Labour Day, May 1. Under that, there are two areas of policy focus - firstly, social protection of the informal labour sector and secondly, welfare of overseas Pakistanis.

More than 90 per cent labourers and agriculture workers in Pakistan work in the ‘informal sector’; they are largely unaware of their rights and do not have access to adequate social protection. There is a need to extend social protection to those working in the informal sector (e.g., agriculture and livestock sector, artisans, construction workers in informal settings, daily wage labourers, domestic workers and rural women workers) and workers in the agriculture sector, especially tenant farmers. Women often have the weakest employment status amongst the informal economy as their work is seen as an extension of their family responsibilities.

The labour expert group will make recommendations to extend welfare measures, including minimum wages; occupational health and safety, to workers in the informal economy, including agricultural workers. It will review the status of legislative development pertaining to welfare measures, identify gaps, and recommended out of box measures for quick implementation.

The group will review institutional arrangements in the post 18th amendment context and make recommendations to address constraints, such as fragmentation of labour social safety nets, corruption and institutional failures which result in exploitation of labour; and enforcement issues with regard to minimum wage, and health and safety regulations. The expectation is to have a mechanism of registration for informal workers in place in a years’ time.

The Prime Minister launched ‘Ehsaas’, which is the widest-ranging social protection and poverty alleviation program ever launched in the country. The preliminary policy statement of the ‘Ehsaas’ program was tweeted by the Prime Minister on April 8, 2019, which outlined ‘Ehsaas’ 4 pillars and its 115 policy areas.

‘Ehsaas’ is an extensive program and it is meant to be implemented through 20 federal ministries/divisions, 6 federal agencies involved in poverty alleviation and social protection, four provincial governments, AJK and GB. The newly created Division of Poverty Alleviation and Safety Nets is the coordinating agency of the ‘Ehsaas’ programme.

Work has commenced on setting up institutional arrangements—such as oversight committees and working groups—which will be involved in implementing and overseeing ‘Ehsaas’. Meanwhile, work on the various schemes which will be launched through ‘Ehsaas’ has also commenced swiftly. These schemes include: ‘Mazdoor-ka-Ehsaas’, B’ewaoon-ka-Ehsaas’, ‘Yateemo-ka-Ehsaas’, ‘Ghareeb Beemar-ka-Ehsaas’, ‘Na-tawan-Ka-Ehsaas’, ‘Maazoor-ka-Ehsaas’, ‘Kissan-ka-Ehsaas’, ‘Berozgar-ka-Ehsaas’, ‘Beghar-ka-Ehsaas’, ‘Ghareeb-buzurgo-ka-Ehsaas’, ‘Ghareeb-Talib-e-Ilm-ka-Ehsaas’, ‘Khawateen-ka-Ehsaas’, and ‘Hakoomat-ko-ghareeb-dost-banane-ke-liye’.

Under the ‘Ehsaas’ framework, the Prime Minister has mandated policy measures for welfare of overseas Pakistani labourers. It has been decided to increase the role and number of Community Welfare Attaches abroad and to involve well reputed expatriate Pakistanis in that role.

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