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‘Pakistan cheapest country in the world’: PM rolls out historic social protection programme

The health insurance would provide free medical services worth Rs1 million annually to 7.5 million families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

By Bureau Report 
December 09, 2021

PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday that welfare projects launched by the government were aimed at providing maximum relief to the poor. 

“We have launched welfare projects aimed at providing maximum relief to the poor and making the country a true Islamic welfare state,” he said while addressing the launching ceremony of the Micro Health Insurance Programme under the Kamyab Pakistan Programme at the Governor’s House. 

Ignoring the advice of the Election Commission of Pakistan about his visit to Peshawar during the local bodies polls, he expressed his determination to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state on the model of Riasat-e-Madina and as per the vision of Quaid-e-Azam.

Imran Khan said that he never said to make Pakistan an Asian Tiger or turning Lahore into Paris, adding that his purpose was to make Pakistan a welfare state. Pakistan is the cheapest country of the world, he declared, adding inflation will come down after winter.

Appreciating the performance of NCOC, the prime minister said the country had effectively tackled coronavirus pandemic that created havoc in world, including India, adding the pandemic had severely affected supply food chain in the world and regional countries that caused inflation, price hike and increased prices of petroleum, gas and food commodities in Pakistan.

He said anti-corona policies of the government had saved people from hunger, starvation and many precious lives besides averting the downfall of the economy. The prime minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had started its political journey with a clear goal to make Pakistan a true Islamic welfare state as envisioned by our forefathers in the Objective Resolution. He said when the PTI came into power in 2013 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, welfare-oriented programmes like health insurance projects were prioritised to benefit the poor and low-income people.

The development projects, reforms initiatives and dedicated party leadership have resulted in an unprecedented two-thirds majority of PTI in the 2018 election in the province, he added.

Referring to a report of the UNDP, the prime minister said significant reduction of poverty had been witnessed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during 2013-18 owing to the PTI government's prudent policies. He said the PTI government had succeeded in improving governance, restoring law and order and boosting morale of police force that was on the forefront in the war against terror in 2013 in KP. 

Despite running a coalition government during 2013-18 in KP, he said 30 percent health insurance had been provided to people. He congratulated the KP government for extending free health insurance to 100 percent of the population on Wednesday.

Under the Kamyab Pakistan Programme, micro health insurance would provide free medical services worth Rs1 million annually to 7.5 million families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said a health insurance programme would also be launched in the Punjab from the first January and the entire population of the province would be covered in three months. The governments of Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan also intended to launch this mega programme, he added.

“Free health insurance cards were a great blessing for poor people and low-income groups,” he said. He said universal free health coverage in KP was unprecedented and such facilities were not available in the developed countries.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the government had announced a historic Ehsaas food subsidy package worth Rs120 billion that would benefit over 20 million households. The Ehsaas Ration Discount Programme will provide groceries to about 20 million families by covering 130 million people and giving them 30 percent discount on purchase of essential food items, adding about 53pc of the country’s total population would be benefited. Families with less than Rs50,000 per month income are eligible for the Ehsaas Ration discount program. The prime minister urged the elected representatives to visit their constituencies and inform people and owners of grocery stores about benefits and procedures of the Ehsaas Ration Programme’s registration. The premier said another welfare programme was being launched to benefit around two million poor families, adding interest free loans up to Rs5 lakh would be provided to each family, besides technical education and Rs2.7 million for construction of houses to live a prosperous and dignified life.

He said the heavy loans borrowed by the previous governments have overburdened the country’s economy and added the major chunk of revenue generated by the government was being spent on paying interest on loans.

The prime minister said that 6.3 million scholarships with allocation of Rs47 billion were being given to students on merit, adding data of the students and scholarships was being compiled by the Prime Minister’s Office so that no deserving student could be deprived. He said 10 new dams would be constructed in the next 10 years to address the problem of water scarcity and bolster food production.

The Ehsaas Rashan Riayat Programme registration on the web portal opened on November 9, 2021. The portal has received as many as 489.96 million visits. Over 7.70 million families have been registered so far.

He said the population of Pakistan was increasing and construction of new dams was vital to address water shortage and irrigate infertile land to meet the food demands. The Billion Trees project was a landmark achievement of the PTI government and appreciated the KP government for planting billions of trees. He said reforms in industries were being introduced to bolster exports.

He also distributed cheques among Imams of Jamia mosques under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s financial assistance programme, students under the Ehsaas Education Programme and poor women under the Kafalat Programme.

Earlier, two videos prepared by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Division about the Prime Minister’s Ehsaas Ration Programme were also screened to inform the audience about the salient features and registration procedures. Also, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Peshawar on Wednesday.

Administrative issues and political situation of the province were discussed during the meeting. Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhary Fawad Hussain was also present on the occasion.