More than 21 per cent people in the province were living below the poverty line, Zakat and Ushr Minister Malik Nadeem Kamran said on Thursday.
The government is determined to improve the situation, he said in his address at the Punjab Philanthropy Forum-2015.
Acting Governor Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, Benazir Income Support Programme Chairperson Marvi Memon, Population Welfare Minister Begum Zakia Shahnwaz, MPA Ayesha Ghaus Pasha and representatives of several NGOs were present.
Kamran said the government was introducing policies to benefit the poor. He said the Zakat and Ushr Department had launched Khadim-i-Punjab Rozgar Scheme under which financial assistance would be provided to those willing to start their own business after acquiring technical training from vocational training institutions.
The minister said philanthropists could deposit their donations and zakat to the account of the department. He said the amount deposited by non-Muslims into the account would only be spent on educating minorities’ children. He said the Zakat and Ushr Department distributed Rs3.5 billion among the poor each year under the heads of zakat, marriage grant, scholarships, subsistence allowance and blind allowance.
The acting governor said the government was doing its best for the welfare of the poor.
“Ashiana Housing Scheme, Metro Bus Service and Parho Punjab, Barho Punjab are some of the projects aimed at well-being of the poor,” he said. He asked philanthropists to help the government make Pakistan a welfare state. He said other provinces were taking inspiration from public welfare projects in the Punjab. He expressed the hope that the scholars, educationists, government officers, politicians and representatives of national and international organisations would help evolve a joint strategy for ameliorating the condition of the poor.
Memon said economic development and creating job opportunities were the key to alleviating poverty.
Around 60 per cent of the Pakistani population faces food insecurity, said experts at a research workshop on Thursday.
The inaugural session of the eight-day PhD workshop was held at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
The International Centre for Development and Decent Work (ICDD) organised the event in collaboration with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Scientists from eight countries are participating in the event.
The speakers said that 805 million people faced chronic hunger worldwide, while 1.2 billion people were living in extreme poverty.
UAF Agriculture Faculty Dean Prof Dr Muhammad Arshad said that Third World countries were the most vulnerable to poverty and hunger. “It is imperative to speed up efforts to combat unemployment, hunger and food insecurity by involving all stakeholders. The education level should be raised and skilled manpower should be produced to reduce unemployment,” he said. He praised ICDD for taking universities from eight countries to work together for ending hunger. He said they had to work together for the good of society. Sustainable Development Policy Institute Executive Director Abid Qayyum Suleri said that the situation of education, health and poverty had been improving in South Asia for 20 years.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2015.
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