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- Tuesday, June 03, 2014 - From Print Edition


ISLAMABAD: The PML-N government said on Monday that poverty declined to 12.4 percent population during the PPP led regime in 2010-11, citing figures from the newly released Pakistan Economic Survey.


According to the 2013-14 Survey figures, taken from the Planning Commission, poverty declined from 17.2 percent in 2007-8 to 12.4 percent in 2010-11.


“The figures may be considered an interim indication of poverty situation in the country,” the Economic Survey 2013-14, unveiled by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in Islamabad, said.


It added that “a technical group on poverty is reviewing official methodology and to find out possible causes of variance in poverty numbers and recommend final official estimates.”


When asked about the reasons for incorporating this “controversial figure” on poverty into the Survey, Dar said that he had proposed an estimate of poverty at $2 per day, which increased the poverty level by up to 50 percent.


The IMF and World Bank have now accepted this method of estimation. “Now the government is going to increase BISP amount in the budget to cater the needs of poor which were identified on the basis of poverty scorecard,” the minister added.


He said that the latest poverty figure of 12.4 percent was estimated on the basis of 2250 calorie intake.


According to the Economic Survey 2013-14, the population living below the poverty line stood at 34.4 percent in 2000-1, 23.9 percent in 2004-5, 22.3 percent in 2005-6, 17.2 percent in 2007-8 and now 12.4 percent in 2010-11. In the afterwards years, there is no poverty figures available in the country.


However, the Economic Survey has also quoted the World Bank’s Poverty Head Count Analysis 2014, which states that if income per adult in Pakistan is taken as $ 1.25 per day, then 21.04 percent of the population falls below poverty line at 2008 population estimates.


But if the poverty line is raised to $ 2 per day in line with international standards for middle income countries, then 60.19 percent of the population fall below poverty line. The position of poverty in Pakistan is better than India and Bangladesh, but Sri Lanka, China and the Philippines are in a better position than Pakistan.


According to the Pakistan Millennium Development Goals Report 2013, the poverty head count has been worked out at 12.4 percent of the population tentatively for the year 2010-11. However, according to the rules of business of running the government, the estimation of poverty is the responsibility of the Planning Commission, which has endorsed the poverty figures of 12.4 percent on the basis of Household Income Expenditure Survey (HIES) held by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).


On Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), consistent with the universal target of halving the poverty head count by 2015, Pakistan set the target for absolute poverty reduction at 13 percent.


Against this benchmark, a considerable downward improvement has been witnessed due to timely intervention of the government through different poverty related programs.