ISLAMABAD: The Economic Survey for 2013-14 on Monday revealed that if the poverty line is $2 per day in line with international standards for middle-income countries, then 60.19 percent of the population fall below poverty line in Pakistan.
The survey revealed that this figure is according to the World Bank’s Poverty Head Count Analysis 2014. However, if income per adult in Pakistan is taken as $ 1.25 per day, then 21.04 percent of the population falls below poverty line at 2008 population estimates. The position of poverty in Pakistan is better than India and Bangladesh but Sri Lanka, China and Philippine’s are in a better position than Pakistan. The percentage of population below $2 per day in China is 29.79 percent; Bangladesh 76.54 percent, Indian 68.72 percent, S Lanka 29.13 percent, Nepal 57.25 percent and Philippines is 41.53 percent.
Pakistan has adopted the Millennium Declaration in the year 2000, and is committed to ‘spare no effort to set free the most vulnerable segment of population from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty’. The Government of Pakistan recognises that eradication of poverty & hunger to meet Goal-1 is a first step in promoting a just and progressive society.
Under MDG-1, Pakistan aims to halve by 2015, the proportion of people living below the national poverty line, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, and halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
According the Economic Survey of Pakistan, Poverty is defined as “a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials to enjoy a minimum standard of life and well-being that’s considered acceptable in society”. Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being, and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity.
Poverty and Social Safety Nets: Poverty is measured traditionally in terms of ability to meet a minimum number of calories in-take or to have a minimum level of income to satisfy basic needs of an adult per day because poor spend sixty percent of their income on food related expenditures.
The Government of Pakistan is committed to improve the livelihood and earning capabilities of the poor to eradicate extreme poverty, the government has started a spectrum of social safety net programs for creating opportunities for the poor to escape poverty and to increase their resilience to crises. Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is one of the most popular and well-thought interventions of the government. Present government has continued the program with total disbursements Rs48.18 billion up to March 2014, in terms of cash grants and the number of beneficiaries increased to 5.25 million.
Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) is also contributing a large amount of funds and different interventions are being made for reducing poverty and hunger, enhancing gender equality and women empowerment, improving maternal health and child mortality and increasing community participation. PPAF’s role in micro-credit, water and infrastructure, drought mitigation, education, health, and emergency response interventions has been widely appraised. Total disbursement through PPAF during the period July to December 2013-14 is Rs 8.414 billion.
After the 18th Constitutional Amendment and passing of 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award has resulted in a paradigm shift from the previous sole emphasis on overall macro-economic growth as well as Inter and Intra-Provincial development priorities. The 7th NFC Award offers greater chunk of funds from federal to provincial governments that will provide more fiscal space to provinces to play their role in addressing intra-provincial disparities. Now most of the projects related to social sectors are planned and implemented by the provinces, while federal government can only concentrate to allocate larger chunk of the budget towards the development of infrastructure, energy and quality improvement of social sectors. The government is taking various measures to keep stable the inflation rate on single digit through prudent expenditure management, tight monetary policy, better supply chain management and monitoring of the prices & supply position of all essential items by taking all the provincial governments on board for the relief of common man.
The Economic Survey revealed that the efforts will be made to improve overall economic governance, devise social protection policy and strengthen pro-poor institutions that would result in better implementation of poverty reduction strategies and improving HRD indicators by allocating a fair amount under different schemes for social safety net programmes with the aim to directly intervene to transfer resources to the marginalised segment of the society.
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