Helping Poor Population

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Poor people of Pakistan are highly confused at this moment. Both camps as their ruler are engulfed in targeting each other without speaking or showing ways for their relief.

In this scenario Prime Minister Imran Khan has indicated some chance of arrival of a dawn in 2019 to resolve issues of poverty, illiteracy, injustice and corruption in the country. In a tweet on Jan 1, the prime minister declared that his government would “wage jihad against the four ills of our country: poverty, illiteracy, injustice and corruption.”

Since on date tilt of his government is still to put blames on the opponents without inviting them to coordinate with the government to fight against poverty, illetracy, injustice and other issues of the country.

However like other countries some schemes have been launched to help needy population of the country.

Pakistan government spent over 1 trillion Rupees (about $16.7 billion) on poverty alleviation programs during the past four years, cutting poverty from 35% in 2000–01 to 29.3% in 2013 and 17% in 2015. Rural poverty remains a pressing issue, as development there has been far slower than in the major urban areas. Further these figures are not considered correct by the recognized agencies of the world. According to the report, nearly 39 percent of Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty, with the highest rates of poverty in FATA and Baluchistan. Moreover progress across different regions of Pakistan is uneven. Poverty in urban areas is 9.3 percent as compared to 54.6 percent in rural areas.

Some schemes to alleviate poverty in Pakistan are as follows:-

The first one is Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) that is a federal unconditional cash transfer poverty reduction program in Pakistan. Launched in July 2008, it is the largest single social safety net program in the country with nearly Rs. 90 billion ($900 million) distributed to 5.4 million beneficiaries in 2016.  This year the amount allocated for BISP has been raised to Rs. 124.7 billion for the fiscal year 2018-19. Beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) have also been increased from 3.73 million in 2012-13 to 5.6 million as on 31st December 2017.

in 2013 it was a mere Rs. 3,000 per quarter for each beneficiary which has been raised to Rs. 4834 per quarter till the current fiscal year, adding that facilitating masses at grass root level is the key objective of the government.

The Department for International Development of the United Kingdom is the largest foreign backer of the program, providing $244 million (or 27%) of the total funds in 2016 with the Pakistani Government providing the rest.

The stipend is linked to the Consumer Price Index and is paid through a smart card. BISP also provides cash payments for emergency relief efforts. These payments are similar to the payments received by low-income families but are distributed to families affected by terrorism, war, and natural disasters such as earthquakes

The Prime Minister Imran Khan has recently re-launched the health insurance scheme, which had been introduced by the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government as Prime Minister National Health Program (PMNHP) in 2015, under the new title of Sehat Insaf Card after making some changes to it. The scheme will now support up to Rs 720,000 medical expenses of the family of each beneficiary annually, while those earning less than Rs 150,000 per annum will also be covered provided such people also contribute a little to the insurance plan. Addressing a cards distribution ceremony, PM Khan said: “The initiative proved a success in KPK, where around 69 per cent of the poor families had been given such cards who received quality healthcare.” He said he came to know about the agony of the poor families after his own mother suffered from cancer at a time when there was no cancer hospital in the country. Sometimes the less privileged families even had to sell their belongings to bear the cost of medical treatment, he said.

Feeling the miseries of homeless people government has also come up with the foundation of a shelter home near the railway station in Lahore. Thereafter it is going to be extended to one kanal land that belongs to the provincial government, but the construction will be carried out by the federal government. The shelter home will provide a roof to 93 men and 27 women. Four more shelter homes will be built in different areas, including Data Darbar, Badami Bagh and Thokar Niaz Baig.

Imran said that Pakistan does not lack resources, but there is a shortage of empathy. Therefore, the government is taking projects like shelter homes to facilitate homeless people. A board will be formed to oversee the functioning of the shelter homes. Pakistan has a lot to learn from China so it could alleviate poverty, he remarked

In addition Imran Khan has taken important decisions over the 5 million housing scheme promised in the PTI manifesto. The government has decided to provide houses to the people on easy installments. It will build 2.5 million houses in the first phase, and another 2.5 million in the second phase. It is the government’s top priority to provide low-cost houses to the people, the premier said. These schemes will also create job opportunities for the people, Khan remarked.

These schemes though exist but still it is not clear that how far they would be able in denting poverty. Lack of adequate governance for running these schemes is the main hurdle in their progress. Further other areas causing poverty are also required to be addressed. These areas are lack of education, high divorce rate, overpopulation, epidemic diseases such as AIDS and malaria and environmental problems such as lack of rainfall, drought, rainfall and flooding.

Till now Pakistan has been run by despotic regimes for large periods of time, alternating with limited or no democracy. These rapid changes in governments led to rapid policy changes and reversals and the reduction of transparency and accountability in government.

Further these micro steps are also dependent on macro indicators of the country where Pakistan is lagging behind even among countries of the subcontinent. For that a competent economic team is required that is not present right now.

Macro Indicators of Subcontinent Countries -FY 2018-2019
Indicators Pakistan India Bangladesh Sri Lanka
GDP growth % year 4.8 7.1 7.5 2.9
GDP per capita $1,548 $1,942 $ 1,517 $ 4,074
Inflation in % (Year) 6.5 2.2 6.3 4.7
Current account deficit  in % of GDP -6.1  – 2.8  -4.45  -3.20
Fiscal deficit in % of GDP -7.0 -6.65 -3.36 -5.38

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