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December 25, 2011

Poverty assessment underway in Pakistan: WB

National

December 25, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has said that poverty assessment is underway in Pakistan, which will provide the basis for an update on poverty trends, sources said on Saturday.
But the government is making efforts to drag its feet away from revealing any poverty figures in a bid to avoid controversy, they said. In its latest report on Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), the World Bank took conscious decision to sticking the poverty figures of 17.2 percent on the basis of survey done in 2007/08.
The figure of 17.2 percent was not endorsed by the PPP-led government, despite validation extended by the World Bank, they said. There is a sharp divide among the economists over this issue as some are favouring to concede poverty figures validated by the World Bank, but some close to the incumbent regime are raising doubts about the credibility of the data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS).
“There is a need to form high-powered committee with clear cut terms of reference to decide this matter once and for all,” the sources said, adding that the methodology of calculating poverty figures should also be analysed to update it in accordance with the ground realities. Now, the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) has once again accomplished Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurement (PSLM) Survey 2010/11. But the Planning Commission has not yet done analysis to come up with the latest poverty figures, the sources said.
However, the World Bank’s country partnership strategy report said that as reported there are indications that Pakistan saw an impressive decline in poverty trends during most years of the last decade, with the poverty rate falling from 34.5 percent in 2001/02 to an estimated 17.2 percent in 2007/08.
Over the last two years, the WB said, there have been signs that poverty levels may be rising, due to the downturn in the economy, floods and inflation. The rapid post-floods recovery in parts of the agriculture sector (those not

hit by back-to-back floods), market price for wheat, and a surprisingly strong growth in remittances would likely to have benefitted the poorest (mainly rural) income groups, according to the report.
While Pakistan’s overall level of inequality remains steady and relatively low as compared to other developing countries, some of the volatile border regions and some rural areas within other provinces have a higher than average level of poverty, it said. Increased migration to the cities has also strained their capacity to deliver the much-needed basic services.

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