The payment process under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program started on Thursday to support the deserving families affected by the lockdown due to coronavirus. Sufficient measures have been taken to ensure the safety and security of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash beneficiaries arriving to collect cash assistance.The biometrically enabled payment operation commenced at 17,000 digital payment points countrywide across all provinces including Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad Capital Territory. All these cash transfers are being made after biometric verification of each beneficiary through National Database Registration Authority (NADRA).Under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash framework, an immediate cash relief of Rs 12,000 is being extended each to families of daily wage earners, whose livelihood has been badly affected by the virus-induced economic downturn. Overall, Rs 144 billion will be disbursed among 12 million families during the next two and a half weeks. For now, as many as 46.38 million people have sent SMS requesting to become beneficiaries of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program. To ensure coronavirus protective measures across payment operations, special disbursement arrangements have been put in place in close coordination with provincial governments. The social distancing measures stringently implemented include opening of payment points at open public spaces with multiple cash counters along with security for these spaces, permission to keep retail point of sale agents open, management of crowds at cash disbursement points and ensuring preventive measures like facility of hand washing etc.People are collecting cash from biometrically enabled payment points of Habib Bank in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan and Bank Al Falah across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. To monitor the payment operations, Dr Sania Nishtar, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation visited HBL Konnect outlets in Bari Imam area of Islamabad and met spouses of workers who had gathered to collect cash handouts.Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said the transfer of cash to the needy in Pakistan on such a massive scale across the country is a great achievement of the present government. “Today saw the launch of the biggest cash distribution by any government in Pakistan’s history, directly to the most vulnerable and needy citizens in our society,” the prime minister said in a tweet posted on his social media account.Referring to the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program, he said Rs 144 billion will be distributed among 12 million families over the next two weeks. Besides, the pictures depicting distribution of emergency cash among the deserving at various points of the country, the prime minister in his tweet also posted a clip which showed a woman thanking the government for the much needed financial support.