The relief package worth Rs28bintroduced by the present government to lessen the impact of increased fuel prices on the low-income groups was indeed a timely measure to provide respite to the inflation-stricken people. The government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had to increase the prices of petroleum products to help the country’s ailing economy owing to the ineffective past policies of the past. The Sasta Petrol/Diesel scheme introduced for the first time in the history of the country by any government to provide Rs2000 to the 14m families (over all 90m people approximately) in wake of increased fuel prices to improve the country’s economic indicators. Hailed as a timely measure to provide the much-needed respite, the payment process under the Sasta Petrol/Sasta Diesel scheme, being executed by the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), is continuing successfully across the country. Till July 22 (Friday), over Rs12bhave been disbursed among 6,138,455 beneficiaries under the Sasta Petrol/Sasta Diesel Scheme. As per the provincial breakdown of the payments, an amount of Rs114,262,000 has been disbursed among 57,131 beneficiaries in Azad Jammu Kashmir, Rs492,408,000 among 246,204 beneficiaries in Balochistan, Rs97,970,000 among 48,985 beneficiaries in Gilgit-Baltistan and Rs4,610,000 among 2305 beneficiaries in Islamabad. A total of Rs2,273,654,000 has been disbursed among 1,136,827 beneficiaries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Rs5,558,310,000 among 2,779,155 beneficiaries in Punjab, Rs3,735,696,000 among 1,867,848 beneficiaries in Sindh. According to the beneficiaries, the scheme providing Rs2000 as fuel subsidy is although not enough amount to counter the effects of over-all inflation on poor but a good initiative on the part of the government to minimize at least the impacts of increased petrol prices. Talking to APP, Anjuman, a beneficiary belonged to Islamabad said, “It is very difficult for the poor people like us to manage our living expenses in the prevailing price hike situation. In such situation, the fuel subsidy amount being provided by the government is a big relief for my family to meet the daily expenses”. About the payment mechanism, Anjuman said that she had just received the amount of fuel subsidy from the One Window Centre in Islamabad where the staff is very helpful and provided proper guidance to the beneficiaries. Another beneficiary, Nazeeran Mai who belonged from Bahawalpur visited the One Window Centre to receive payment and thanked the present government for providing assistance of Rs2000 under the Sasta Petrol/Sasta Diesel Scheme with a hope that this amount would be increased in future. Nazeeran Mai said that she will spend this amount on buying ration for her family as it has been difficult to make both ends meet during the prevailing inflation. Another beneficiary, Safia Bibi, from Banni, Rawalpindi said that she has received the amount of Rs2000 from the payment centre today which she will utilize for fulfilling the needs of her children. Appreciating this initiative of the present government, she said this amount means a lot to the poor like us and reflect the government sincere intentions to extend relief to the poor even in the difficult economic conditions. The Sasta Petrol/Sasta Diesel Scheme is covering 14m families (overall 90m people) which are around 30pc of the total population through providing the financial assistance of Rs2000. The 14m families include the existing 8m beneficiaries of Benazir Kafalat Program and 6m additional beneficiaries who were identified through the National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER). To select the 6m additional beneficiaries, the SMS service 786 was opened for those having less than Rs40,000 monthly income to apply for the scheme by sending their Computerized National Identity Cards. After receiving payment message from BISP, the registered families of Benazir Kafalat Program belonged from Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan receive their payments from biometric ATMs of Habib Bank and those from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir from Bank Alfalah. It is pertinent to mention here that the federal cabinet approved a relief package of worth Rs28b to counter the effects of increased petroleum prices on the poor citizens. According to the Chairperson BISP, Shazia Marri, the coalition government is pursuing concrete efforts to provide much-needed targeted subsidies to the poorest of the poor. “The increase in petrol prices was a difficult decision to save the country’s economy from bankruptcy owing to the ineffective policies of the previous government”, she said.