Byline: Syed Fazl-E-Haider
Surging poverty levels and rising inflationary pressure have hardest hit the poor and ordinary Pakistani in the past one year. Though the present government of Prime Minister Imran Khan shows its commitment to alleviate poverty and rehabilitate the weak and poor sections of the society, yet there are no significant measures taken by the government in practical. There is a dire need to take practical steps for supporting the poor and reducing their vulnerability. The government should create conditions for the development of insurance markets, encourage the use of other risk-spreading financial instruments and design economic and regulatory incentives for risk reduction behavior.
First of all, prevailing poverty in the country should be more comprehensively measured through an index that uses multiple indicators. These may be broadly categorized as socioeconomic and demographic indicators related to income and wealth, housing, transport and communication, education, health and gender equality. Pakistan is a country where up to 40% of its 180 million population live below poverty line- on less than $1 a day or less. Despite tall claims of the officials about putting the economy on growth track, it is undeniable fact that, economic divide in the country would widen in the coming days as dependence on foreign loans would hurt economy, ultimately pushing more and more people below the poverty line. The country's ballooning external debt and liabilities continue to burden its economy.
The economic inequality in Pakistan has grown even though consumption based poverty has dropped from 57.9% to 29.5% between 1998-99 and 2013-14, and multidimensional poverty - which includes health, education and living standards - has fallen from 55.2% to 38.8% between 2004-5 and 2014-15, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report of July 2016. The report says that in 1987-88, the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, was 0.35 and that this number has risen to 0.41 in 2013-14. Because of this inequality, the report says, economic growth is affected, crimes increase, talent is wasted, and social mobility is hindered. Therefore, the most critical challenge of the 21st Century is achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which includes ending poverty in all its forms and leaving no one behind. According to the report, one of the world's great achievements in the past few decades is the significant fall...