Govt urged to intensify efforts on poverty alleviation

* Experts say next 15 to 20 years will be decisive for Pakistan's economic future

Govt urged to intensify efforts on poverty alleviation

 ISLAMABAD: Pakistan needs to intensify and enhance its efforts on poverty alleviation.The panel of senior economists expressed these views during the seminar 'Poverty as Functional Deprivation', held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute here on Monday.

"The need for dealing with multi-dimensional poverty was urgent in its nature and thus demanded multi-facet strategy to bring about actual change at different levels. Next fifteen to twenty years would be decisive for the economic future of Pakistan as this would be an era offering number of opportunities and challenges simultaneously," they added.

Presenting the study 'Poverty as Functional Deprivation' as Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) as new measure of poverty, Dr Rafi Amiruddin said the new SDGs commitment comprehended multifaceted nature of poverty by committing to "ending poverty in all its forms". However, he said, no consensus has been reached upon about the definition and measurement of poverty.

He explained that going beyond money base measures, recent understanding saw poverty as much more than lack of income extending the scope to Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to very broad and social exclusion, hunger, unemployment and ill-heath are just some of the many dimensions of poverty.

Dr Rafi added, 'Our estimates suggested that the global poverty has only modestly come down by 4 percentage points from 35% in 1990-2000 to 31% in 2001-2010. This contrasts sharply with the estimates based on the poverty line of the World Bank which suggests that poverty has nearly halved from 47% in 1990 to 24% in 2015."

Likewise, he said poverty in Pakistan was 55% in the initial period which came down by 5 percent points to 50% in a decade (2001-2010). "

Without sufficiently enlarging our focus to include important dimensions of wellbeing in our analysis and without distinguishing the relative importance of those dimensions, we might miss many aspects of poverty and deprivation which blight human lives in extremely unpleasant ways," he concluded.

Economist Dr GM Arif was of view that the government was trying to alleviate poverty by income support through BISP, However, poverty has many dimensions and needed to be dealt with multi-sectoral strategy. He said the policy makers must include area-wise vulnerability in the strategies aiming to combat poverty.

He said that CPEC and youth bulge was offering huge opportunities for Pakistan to include them into poverty alleviations plans. However, it could not be achieved without applying people centric approach to get fully benefitted from these opportunities.

Earlier, Dr Sajid Amin, co-author of the study and head of Policy Solutions Lab SDPI, explained the importance of correct measurement of poverty for better and result-oriented efforts for poverty alleviation. He said reducing poverty in all its form was a major SDGs commitment of Pakistan that better execution of poverty alleviation strategies.