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Sindh govt plans cash transfers for welfare of COVID-19 patients

Karachi

July 9, 2020

The Sindh government has planned to transfer cash to persons affected by the coronavirus infection for their economic welfare, and for the purpose a sum of Rs20 billion has been reserved in the provincial budget for 2020-21.

Chief Secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah stated this as he chaired a meeting at the Sindh Secretariat on Wednesday of the steering committee constituted to oversee the initiatives of the government to ensure social protection and economic stability in the province.

He said that the system of online banking would be utilised to do the cash transfer in favour of people suffering from the coronavirus in the province, and for the purpose relevant data was being gathered from athe National Database and Registration Authority and other related institutions.

He also informed the participants of the meeting that a sum of Rs5 billion had been reserved for providing loans to the owners of small businesses in the province for the sake of their revival owing to the economic hardships arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Haris Gazdar, who is the coordinator to the Sindh chief minister on social protection, said the assistance had been sought from Nadra, Benazir Income Support Programme, and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics with regard to the population census available with it, and the polio immunisation programme to collect the data of the businesses and affected people. The CS informed the meeting that a sum of Rs1,200 million had been reserved in the new budget of the Sindh government to lend financial support to the start-ups related to the field of information technology in the province. He asked the investment secretary to get support from the private sector and universities to provide maximum assistance to the start-ups.

He said that Rs34 billion had been earmarked in the provincial budget for carrying out different initiatives related to social protection in Sindh. This sum will be spent in the fields of agriculture, livestock, small industries, IT, provision of loans on easy terms, and cash transfers to patients of the coronavirus.

The provincial budget for the current financial year 2020-21 also contains a sum of Rs3 billion for the agriculture sector. The meeting was also informed that in the current financial year the government would spend one billion rupees each for the tasks of improving rice cultivation, provision of fertiliser, and pesticides to the growers in the province.

The CS directed the secretary of the agriculture department to propose a mechanism within 15 days for the provision of subsidies to the growers, and for the purpose an officer of grade-19 should be appointed as the focal person. The meeting of the steering committee will finalise the mechanism for the purpose.

The meeting was also attended by the Sindh government’s secretaries for the departments of finance, agriculture, investment, social welfare, livestock, and industries. The meeting discussed different strategies to revive various sectors and people affected by the coronavirus epidemic.