Poverty

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Current Situation

Most of Pakistan’s population lives in adverse circumstances.  Four out of 10 Pakistanis or 58.7 million out of a total population of 200 million live below the poverty line. According to a World Bank report titled ‘State of Water Supply, Sanitation and Poverty in Pakistan’, the poverty rate in rural Pakistan is twice as much in urban areas 36pc versus 18pc and it has remained unchanged since 2001-02. Balochistan has by far the highest rural poverty rate, with more than 62 per cent of its rural population living below the poverty line. The gap between rural and urban poverty is the widest in Sindh at almost 30 percentage points. The urban-rural gap in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is 13 and 15 percentage points, respectively. 80 percent of Pakistan’s poor live in rural areas. 

Promise

1.We will establish a special mechanism to supplement existing poverty alleviation efforts in the poorest districts across Sindh, Punjab, KP and Balochistan

2.We will increase funding for the poorest districts through existing poverty alleviation programmes.

3.We will provide Sehat Insaf cards and augment the existing BISP programme in these districts.

Ali Asghar Khan, Member Core Committee PTI, talks about the focus of government to improve the living of poor people.

Progress

27 March 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan launched ‘Ehsas programme’, a Rs80 billion poverty alleviation programme aimed at the downtrodden people with food, shelter, clothing, education and health. He said that the first change under this programme would be amending Article 38(D) of the Constitution from the “Principles of Policy” section into the “Fundamental Rights” section, making it a fundamental right for all citizens to be given food, shelter, education and health facilities by the State. The amount of Rs80 billion would be raised to Rs120 billion by 2021.

The PM also announced the establishment of a new Ministry of Social Protection/Poverty Alleviation. Various institutions like the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), PBM, Zakat and PPAF would be working under that ministry. The purpose is to bring all these institutions together as there is little coordination among them. 

The PM also announced ‘Tahafuz Programme’ under which 5.7 million women will be given savings accounts and mobile phones through which they will be able to access their bank accounts. People who still do not have Insaf health card can call Tahafuz office and money will be arranged for them.

2 April 2019

The federal cabinet approved the creation of a new division named Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division and decided against renaming Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). The new division will be headed by Dr Sania Nishtar and it will coordinate functions of different organisations under the newly launched Ehsas Programme.

4 April 2019

The inflation in Pakistan was over 9.4 per cent in March, its highest since November 2013, with strong increases in food and energy, the two most sensitive items for most consumers. The rupee has lost over a quarter of its value. The government has also hiked petrol prices by 6 rupees to 98.88 rupees a litre.