Islamabad, October 17, 2012 (PPI-OT): Pakistan joins the world community in observing the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty today. The day reminds us of the imperative of eradicating poverty and destitution through equitable economic growth, creation of employment opportunities and sustainable socio-economic development.
This year’s theme “Working together out of poverty” represents a call for formation of alliances and partnerships among different regional economic blocs and between the developed and the developing world to take on poverty. The resolve of the world leaders at the Millennium Summit to reduce the number of the poorest of the poor by half by 2015 was reflective of the same spirit of oneness.
The concept of poverty has taken broader connotations in recent years. Poverty has manifestations in lack of asset ownership, unsustainable livelihoods, social exclusion, limited or no access to social services, and vulnerability to shocks.
In this context, the problem of poverty can be addressed more appropriately by adopting a holistic approach i.e. making growth pro-poor, creating opportunities for employment and income generation, providing access to basic social services, food and financial resources, improving governance, making devolution work for those at the grass root and protecting vulnerable.
Economic growth in itself, is though necessary but not sufficient for substantial reduction in poverty. Experiences of Pakistan and many other countries show that periods of high growth do not tend to produce the desired outcomes with regard to poverty reduction.
The challenge is to make growth inclusive by providing resources for better service delivery (education, health sanitation, and housing) particularly for those in lower income groups, and targeted programs for the benefit of the poor.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are considered an important tool for poverty alleviation, human resource development and employment generation. In order to enhance the productivity and exports of the SME sector, Framework for Economic Growth of the Government stresses upon strategic shift of government’s assistance to infrastructural development and establishing common facility centres.
These projects not only provide technical support to SMEs but also play an important role in poverty alleviation by generating direct and indirect employment in their respective areas. Under PSDP, SMEDA is implementing 28 projects worth Rs 2.8 billion which are expected to have positive impact on development and prosperity and will result in enhancing the standard of living and human resource development. ‘Early Recovery and Restoration of Flood Affected Communities in Pakistan’ project of SMEDA, being implemented in collaboration with UNDP (est. cost Rs 256 million) entails establishment and operation of Business Support Centers in 29 districts severely affected by the floods. The aim is to provide communities support for economic development through extending small grants.
During July 2011-March 2012, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) disbursed funds in urban and rural areas of 129 districts of the country to about 297,000 community organizations through 112 partner organizations of which 12 were focusing exclusively or predominantly on women.
These interventions have resulted in completion of 27,417 projects in infrastructure, health and education sector and training of more than 488 thousand community members. In earthquake affected areas, PPAF provided financing to 122 thousand households to build earthquake resistant homes and trained over 108 thousand individuals in seismic construction and related skills.
The microfinance industry broadly provides services in three categories viz. micro-credit, micro-savings and micro-insurance. The number of borrowers during Jul-Dec 2011 was 2.1 million. Outreach growth was limited to 0.7% in 2011 compared to 13% growth during 2010, primarily due to limited availability of funding due to 2010 and 2011 floods.
Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) was established by the democratic Government in July 2008 with the primary objective of providing immediate relief to the poor enabling them to absorb the shock of rising prices of food and fuel. Within a short span, BISP has made remarkable progress by providing much needed relief to over 4 million recipients including IDPs, flood affectees and bomb blast victims all across Pakistan.
BISP has disbursed an amount of Rs 108 billion to its recipients till March 2012. The number of recipients is expected to increase to 7 million once the on-going processing of data collected during the nation-wide poverty scorecard targeting survey is completed.
Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (PBM) interventions focuses on providing assistance to destitute, widow, orphan, invalid, infirm and other needy persons. An amount of Rs 674.4 million has been disbursed for benefiting 11,988 individuals countrywide during 20011-12. An amount of Rs 261 million have been spent during the first three quarters of 2011-12.
Zakat plays an important role in poverty alleviation. Zakat funds are utilized for assistance to the needy, indigent, poor, orphans, widows, handicapped and disabled for their subsistence or rehabilitation. These poor segments of society were provided Zakat funds either directly or indirectly. A total amount of Rs 3,669 million was distributed in bulk amongst the federating units.
Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Scheme has been established primarily to provide subsistence pension and other benefits. During 2011-12, EOBI has disbursed Rs 11.7 billion to some 358,800 beneficiaries while, next year disbursement is expected to be Rs 14.9 billion.
The pro-poor budgetary expenditures during 2011-12 (by Federal and Provincial Governments) stood at Rs 1,295 billion (July 2011 – March 12). In the next year 2012-13, it is projected to rise at Rs 1,615 billion, 8.1% of GDP in 2012-13.
These steps of the democratic government show that we are alive to the magnitude of the challenge. Fighting poverty is a national challenge warranting partnership approach on the part of all stakeholders. On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let us resolve to double our efforts to alleviate poverty, a major impediment in development of the country.
For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326