‘Cash disbursement among poor families from Thursday’

ISLAMABAD (APP): Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Tuesday said the Federal Government would start disbursing cash of Rs 12,000 per family from Thursday (April 9) under its special package to support the people badly hit by the lockdown imposed by the government to curb the spread of coronavrus.

“In the first phase, we will disburse Rs 48 billion to four million families for which 16,923 distribution points have been established across the country,” he said while addressing a media briefing on coronavirus here along with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza. Asad Umar said all the arrangements had been finalized to start the process for cash disbursement. Some 12 million families would receive Rs 12,000 in cash each in phases.

He said out of total 16,923 distribution points, 3,700 were set up in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 396 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 285 in Gilgit Baltistan, 708 in Balochistan, 4,374 points in Sindh, 7,299 in Punjab and 161 in Islamabad.

Asad Umar said protective measures would be taken and the people would not be allowed to gather in large numbers at the distribution points.

He clarified that the Federal Government would provide cash to the families directly in every corner of the country without any discrimination. The minister said the doctors had the right to have protective equipment because they were the front line warriors against the coronavirus. The government was taking every possible measure to protect the doctors and other healthcare workers.

He said the Federal Government had provided 39,500 protective kits for health workers to the provinces against requests for 22,000. Balochistan received 5,600 kits, Islamabad 2,000, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 7,600, Punjab 10,600, Sindh 9,200, AJK 3,000 and Gilgit Baltistan 500, he added.

The Federal Government, he said, would provide medical equipment directly to 400 identified hospitals where the facility of ventilators was available. Initially, he said, they had shortlisted 153 hospitals having minimum five ventilators, including four in AJK, seven in Islamabad, four in Balochistan, 21 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 75 in Punjab and 42 in Sindh, which would be provided the equipment in the first phase.

Asad Umar said about three weeks ago the country had the ability to test 700 to 800 samples for the coronavirus, which had now been increased to 3,000 tests per day and by the end of April, it would rise to 25,000 tests in one day.

The minister said in order to avoid the spread of coronavirus pandemic on big scale in the country, the people should take all the protective measures. No one, including the poor or the rich, was completely safe from the virus, “so everybody should take care of him or her,” he added.