Despite claims of providing relief to the poor through different measures, the government appeared to avoid providing poverty figures in the Pakistan Economic Survey 2011-12.
A committee constituted by the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Dr Nadeemul Haque, who previously workded at the IMF has measured the incidence of poverty in Pakistan at 12%. Due to double-digit inflation for the last five consecutive years and worsening conditions, the government could not dare to make this figure public. Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh had directed the Planning Commission’s deputy chairman to devise fresh poverty figures.
According to the survey, the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) provided relief to over four million recipients, including internally displaced persons and flood victims. Almost Rs122 billion have been disbursed to BISP beneficiaries up to March, 2012 since the launch of the scheme, and it has an allocation of Rs50 billion for the fiscal year 2011-12. BISP recipients could rise to 7 million once the on-going nationwide poverty scorecard survey is completed.
The overall disbursement of poverty alleviation funds during July-December 2012 was Rs8.5 billion and these funds were dedicated for micro credit, enterprise development, community based infrastructure and energy projects, livelihood enhancement and protection, social mobilisation and capacity building.
The government said that an amount of Rs1.8 billion had been utilised up to February 2012 on various scheme of Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal. Similarly an amount of Rs7.8 billion Zakat funds had been utilised for assistance to the needy, indigent, poor, orphans, widows up to March, 2012.
Peoples Works Programme (PWP) I and II were providing electricity, gas, farm to market roads and other services to the rural poor. During July-December 2011-12 the government spent Rs2.2 billion on PWP-I and Rs2.9 billion on PWP-II.
According to the survey, a sum of Rs7.96 billion has been utilised during July to March 2011-12 for Employees Old Age Benefits Institution which provides benefits to the old age workers through Old Age Pension, Invalidity Pension and Survivors Pension. During July to March 2012, an amount of Rs 2.54 billion was utilised for Workers Welfare Funds including housing facilities and Marriage Grant, Death Grant and Scholarships.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2012.
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