PUNJAB Chief Minister Hamza Sharif has come out with an appreciable idea of providing meaningful relief to poverty and inflation-ridden people of the province.
He announced on Monday that the provincial government would bear the utility expenses of consumers who use up to 100 units of electricity under the Punjab Chief Minister Roshan Gharana Programme.
The government has set aside Rs100 billion for the relief programme which would benefit nine million families in the province.
Rising electricity tariff has become a source for concern, especially for low and middle income groups, but the Government was apparently unable to arrest the trend in view of increasing fuel costs.
However, the Punjab Chief Minister has sent a clear message that the Government can definitely help by funding the entire electricity bill for the poor.
The impact of the decision taken by Hamza Sharif can be gauged by the fact that about half of the population of the province would be provided free electricity from this month and the Punjab government would pay the bills in August.
This would allow the beneficiaries to use the money so saved for other essential expenses. The move is most likely to serve as an incentive for people to conserve/save energy and benefit from the scheme.
The initiative is in line with the overall policy of the Punjab Government to offer genuine relief to the people in the backdrop of unprecedented price-hike.
The provincial government is providing a massive subsidy on wheat flour, which is staple food of the people in Pakistan.
Similarly, the Punjab Government also announced provision of free medicines to cancer patients that were going beyond the absorbing capacity of the ordinary patients.
The Chief Minister has also announced to provide free solar panels to people in need so that they could shift to alternative sources of electricity.
Together these schemes would mitigate sufferings of the people to a great extent and, therefore, other provinces too should follow the footsteps of Hamza Shahbaz in providing relief to their people.
Unfortunately, there is a history of finding fault with welfare programmes launched by one province as we witnessed in the case of Sasti Roti scheme during the tenure of Mian Shehbaz Sharif as Chief Minister of Punjab.
Such tendencies need to be curbed and good ideas should be adopted for the sake of overall welfare of the people.