Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) arrives to attend the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s much-trumpeted Rs80 billion (Dh2.09 billion) poverty alleviation programme ‘Ehsas’ which the government claims will help the poor, downtrodden and vulnerable segments of the society is termed by the main opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) a repeat of the earlier 100-day plan.

Imran Khan on Wednesday in a two-and-a-half hours address had claimed that the “Ehsas” programme provide homes to the homeless, food to the hungry and shelter for the destitute.

The programme includes the poor, the orphans, widows, the homeless, disabled, the malnourished and the jobless etc.

Unveiling the salient features of the poverty alleviation programme Imran said the government would allocate an additional amount of Rs80 billion in the country’s social protection spending in backward areas from the current year, which would be raised to Rs120 billion in 2021.

He also announced the establishment of a new Ministry of Social Protection/Poverty Alleviation to address the current fragmentation. Various institutions like the BISP, PBM, Zakat, PPAF etc would be working under that ministry, which would develop a one-window operation for social protection of the poor and to facilitate citizens, he added.

He said the government would introduce a new constitutional amendment to move Article 38 (d) from the “Principles of Policy” section into the “Fundamental Rights” section.

The change would make provision of food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief for the citizens, who could not earn a livelihood due to infirmity, sickness or unemployment, a state responsibility, the Prime Minister said and described it as the first step towards the creation of a welfare state.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was of the view that 25 per cent to 40 per cent of people in Pakistan were suffering from poverty, the government wanted targeted subsidies, adding, the government would have a new survey of poverty to be completed by December this year.

While commenting on the Prime Minister’s address and the said poverty alleviation programme, Marriyum Aurangzeb, spokesperson for the PML-N here Thursday said the address was the repeat of the 100-day plan Imran Khan had given before the July 25 2018 elections.

“Imran Khan has given nothing new in his address rather he has failed in delivering his promises,” said Aurangzeb. About Imran Khan’s promise of 10 million jobs and 5 million houses for the homeless, she asked if the government has constructed even the first house of those 5 million promised by Prime Minister in his 100-day plan address.

Prices of daily items are going beyond the access of common man and the government instead is raising the gas and electric tariff making the consumers’ lives more miserable, she said.