Over 23 million families from across Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the federal capital benefitted from the free wheat flour scheme under the Ramazan Package announced by the government for relief of the inflation-stricken people. A couple of weeks before the holy month of Ramazan, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced that the government would distribute free wheat flour among the 18.5 million families of Punjab and 185,000 households in the federal capital. Prior to the launch, the prime minister held frequent meetings with the relevant authorities to ensure hassle-free and fair distribution of flour among the entitled people during the month of fasting. As per the prime minister’s directives, the authorities concerned made elaborate arrangements for the facilitation of the beneficiaries. Besides waiting rooms, special information desks were set up to guide the people regarding their eligibility as well as the distribution process. Starting from the 25th of Shaban, the scheme continued till last week of the holy month. In Punjab, the flour distribution was carried out through 8,500 Utility Stores as well as around 20,000 flour distribution points set up across the province. According to the Punjab government data, around 43.93 million flour bags were distributed across Punjab benefiting 17.69 million households. The distribution of free flour in Punjab was not merely limited to the residents of the province rather those from KP, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan but living in Punjab, were also facilitated. Similarly, around 5.23 million families of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa benefitted from the government’s welfare scheme, achieving over 90 percent of the set target. To ensure transparency of the scheme and proper facilitation of the beneficiaries, the prime minister made unannounced visits of the flour distribution points across the province including Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Bahawalpur, Lahore, Kasur, Dera Ghazi Khan and Muzaffargarh. He interacted with the people, listened to their issues and directed for their immediate redressal. He also monitored the verification process of the particulars of beneficiaries before they were handed over the flour bags. “No citizen should face any difficulty during Ramazan. Special attention should be given to the facilitation of old-aged and persons with disabilities,” he instructed and called for making arrangements to facilitate the women, particularly those accompanied by their children. “Don’t consider it just an official duty rather serve it as a humanitarians work to seek the appeasement of Allah Almighty during Holy Ramzan,” he had said during a visit to a flour distribution center. Prime Minister Sharif said, “This is the first time in 75 years that free flour is being distributed as in the past flour was being provided at subsidised rate.” In a tweet, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb appreciated the efforts of government officials to ensure transparency in the distribution of free flour. She said the prime minister personally monitored the execution of the unprecedented free flour scheme. “Amid inflation, free flour was distributed among hundreds of thousands of poor people in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Islamabad during Ramazan with full honesty and transparency,” she said. The government had also carried comprehensive awareness campaign asking the people to check their eligibility for the free flour by sending an SMS containing their CNIC number to the 8717 helpline of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) as data had been linked with the BISP. As per the criteria, the families registered with the BISP and having a poverty score of 60 or lesser were eligible to avail of the facility. The registered families were entitled to get 30 kilograms of flour in a month. In case of any complaint, the people were also asked to contact the toll-free helpline 0800-05590. However, keeping in view the increasing demand, the prime minister later announced that people even those not registered with the BISP data would also be eligible to avail of the scheme through specified desks at the distribution points. This initiative was widely hailed as the largest package in the country’s history which was also evidenced by the smile on the faces of the beneficiaries as they received three flour bags.