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New poverty line makes a third of Pakistanis poor

Updated Apr 08, 2016 07:19pm

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LAHORE: Scavenger children, who collect recyclable items from garbage to earn their living, wait for a garbage truck in this file photo.—AP
LAHORE: Scavenger children, who collect recyclable items from garbage to earn their living, wait for a garbage truck in this file photo.—AP

ISLAMABAD: The PML-N government on Thursday announced that 60 million Pakistanis are living below the poverty line, posing a challenge for the ruling party.

The number of poor increased owing to the adoption of a new methodology for measuring poverty which uses the 2013-14 survey data, said Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal.

Addressing a seminar on ‘Poverty Estimation’ while co-chairing along with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Mr Iqbal said the incumbent government was committing itself to a greater challenge because 2001 poverty line formula that placed 20m people poor was outdated and misleading.

The new poverty line estimates the number of poor households at 6.8m to 7.6m. “So we are raising bar for ourselves. But we have decided to do so,” the minister said.

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Using 2013-14 data, the poverty headcount ratio comes out to be 29.5pc of the population. In monetary terms, poverty line stands at Rs3,030 per adult equivalent per month, the minister said.

Under the old poverty line, the percentage of the poor fell by around 25 percentage points, from a high of 34.6pc in 2001-02 to 9.3pc in 2013-14.

Further analysis of the past data under the new poverty line estimates the poverty headcount ratio at 63.3pc in 2001-02, which has now fallen to 29.5pc.

Headcount poverty was computed in Pakistan in 2001. Since then the ground reality has changed altogether amid structural reforms, liberalisation, social safety nets, increase in remittances and natural calamities.

In the 16 years, the country has changed in many important ways. The line, therefore, sets far too low a bar for inclusive development policies, he said.

“We needed to choose from reference group, measure of welfare (calories) and method,” the minister said, adding: “We have chosen 10-40pc of distribution as reference group, 2,350 calories as minimum welfare measure and cost of basic needs as method.”

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The 2001 model of poverty measurement was based on food energy intake (FEI), which was not a representative one. To make it more transparent and coherent, the government has also incorporated costs of basic needs (CBN) for capturing non-food expenditures in the new formula.

Non-food items will include expenditures on education, health and mobile phones. These will be added to basket for calculating the exact number of poor in the country.

Data shows poverty levels were in decline since 2001, falling from 34.7pc in 2000-01 to 23.3pc in 2004-05, 21.9pc in 2005-06, 16.5pc in 2007-08, 12.2pc in 2010-11, 12.4pc in 2011-12 and 9.3pc in 2013-14 as estimated by the World Bank.

Official poverty figures have not been released since 2005-06.

Meanwhile, Mr Dar said there was no need to go for a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme. “The government has taken several steps to promote economic growth in the country.”

He said the foreign exchange reserves have touched a historic high level. The minister said that poverty is a challenge and the government would take measures to cut it. “Whatever the methodology, the poverty level in the country has declined,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2016

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Comments (47) Closed



imran Khan Apr 08, 2016 06:52am

And than on the other side Ruling party have off shore funds??

nuh Apr 08, 2016 08:08am

How can you estimate the population under poverty line when you do not have a census for the last 20 years?

NT Apr 08, 2016 08:11am

To defend their own wrong doing they are maligning the highly reputable Shawkat Khanun Cancer Hostipal which provides care to the poor people of Pakistan.

YourNeighbour Apr 08, 2016 08:15am

World bank poverty line is $2 a day which makes Rs 6,279.76 pakistani rupees. But PML-N govt estimated it to Rs 3,030 for poverty line which makes $29/month which is quite below par from international standards

saeeds Apr 08, 2016 08:15am

Of course if you produce like fly you live like a fly. No one else to blame except people them self. Compare and Check population rate of poor countries to developed countries.

Sam Apr 08, 2016 08:18am

Shame on those who promised "Roti, Kapra aur Makaan" for 40 years and didnt do much at all. Poor and underprivileged minds are easy to brain wash and manipulate and unfortunately nation is turning into huge supplier of modern day slavery.

s.khan Apr 08, 2016 08:29am

so what ???

now world has stopped asking us to do more, and we have enough funds for metros and multi colors lines etc. off shore accounts and so on ........

aslam shaikh Apr 08, 2016 08:30am

Our rich are getting richer using all the wrong ways possible and our politicians are enjoying luxurious lifestyles. These figures cannot be sugar-coated.

aslam shaikh Apr 08, 2016 08:34am

Lots of ways possible to reduce this figure. Cut down government spending on non-essential expenditures one example that will save millions of dollars is to stop spending politicians for free medical care outside the country. We have everything here and whatever is missing these politicians will then make sure it becomes available locally.

aslam shaikh Apr 08, 2016 08:35am

@saeeds it is not population growth issue. It is the extremely corrupt 1% issue.

natey Apr 08, 2016 08:41am

gov cannot eliminate it themselves...they need to bring in companies investment to make factories and have jobs for poor...im sure pak can be good place to open factories because the ppl will work for 10 thousand rupees per month salary at factory..this is good for factories coz its low pay according to international standard...jobs the only way to eliminate poors...

Syed Ahmed Apr 08, 2016 08:42am

It is mind boggling that poverty line is depleting each year. Each year forign and domestic loans are mounting and business of Pakistani Politicians is flourishing abroad, money stashed in foreigh banks multiplying by leaps and bounds. The constitution of Pakistan guarantees care and wellbeing of the poor people but they survive on "tifal tassely".

PAK Apr 08, 2016 08:56am

Shame, unthinkable, where is the government

Sami Qureshi Apr 08, 2016 09:39am

@nuh similarly as the population is increasing one crore every year. If people accept that figure with pride then the figure of poverty line has to be accepted.

Ehsan Apr 08, 2016 09:44am

The revised formula of Poverty rate prevailing in the country seem to create panic and chaos amidst the escalating anxious about Panama leaks of elite class. The most devastating aspect of the capitalism is that it ultimately increases the gap b/w the elite and poor class rather than alleviation. That's the point of flashing concern for the Economic ,Planning and development division and Policy makers. While the Ministers still claiming to eradicate poverty despite of staggering figures of Poverty revealed by the aforementioned survey. This formula puts the economic growth at stake, that's the miserable condition of middle class families. What about the slum dwellers and Nomadic centers?

zafar abbas siyal Apr 08, 2016 09:46am

Since last three decades, GOP initiated many new program for the poverty reduction, but still not succeeded, it is time to review the policies and find out the main gaps for not achieving the main results. Poverty is not only damaging the on HHs life, but it destroy the society. It is time the government as well other pillar of the society sit to gather eradicate the main reasons for the responsible increasing the poverty.

Ahmed bin Babar Apr 08, 2016 10:03am

Tax collection is extremely poor and faulty, we have great economic opportunities but the benefits always fall into the laps of those who are already rich...

Asif Apr 08, 2016 10:34am

By NGO and other nkn official sources, we have more than 67% people living under poverty line. Hundreds of people in that died because of starvation. Governmnet should honestly disclose the figures and work to eliminate poverty. We have everything we need but we are not managing properly. We should stop building arma and nulcear wepons until we become able to provide food to every Pakistani.

liberal Apr 08, 2016 10:46am

Rs 3030 per month is about $ 30 per month, which is < $1 per person per day... Which is still lower than the World Bank $ 1.90 !! So Ahsan Iqbal's argument of "raising the bar" is a lie. The govt has actually lowered the bar

S Malik Apr 08, 2016 10:53am

@aslam shaikh Of course population growth is an issue. You have people with children who they cannot feed and yet they still have more. I don't know which Pakistan you live in but the one I live in, population growth is a big issue.

raja Apr 08, 2016 11:52am

No population census for the last decades, a poverty line measurement that is half of the WB standard, meaning the government have altered the numbers as much as possible and still they come up with really grimm numbers! The reality is even worse, but hey keep living in reality!

Sameer Apr 08, 2016 02:49pm

@nuh They just did. Apparently took off records from 2014 and justified a 9.3 %

Compared to data since 2001, 9.3 is the lowest record value. Meaning the poverty is at an all time low.

Now 9.3 % means 6 to 8 million people. Despite self praising by the gov, these numbers appear forged just like so much things forged in this country.

aha Apr 08, 2016 03:23pm

Poverty, with its consequences, is the real threat to Pakistan and not all the imaginary threats that Pakistanis are so focused on.

Abdul Basit Apr 08, 2016 03:24pm

The poverty is linked to education. This poverty will continue till all children aged 5 - 15 attend schools and get the basic 10 years of schooling. Then after three generations we will see poverty coming down in Pakistan. A Government that only has a vision till the next general elections is unlikely to achieve this goal. We need someone who can think of the next 75 years.

Abdul Basit Apr 08, 2016 03:28pm

@Sam Roti Kapra AUR Makan is available to all UK nationals because in UK, all children between the ages of 5 - 15 attend school. Poverty is related to education. Which also means that the best way to get out of poverty is education.

Zeen Apr 08, 2016 03:31pm

Is poverty real enemy?

aslam shaikh Apr 08, 2016 03:41pm

@S Malik we can sustain population growth. There is a lot of potential and opportunities. The elite 1% is to blame for exploiting and sucking the country dry.

Arslan Apr 08, 2016 03:45pm

Obviously when you loot and plunder the country, poverty will increase. 'Raising the bar" is just an eye wash. 2 recent democracies have increased unemployment and poverty, overall debt, with lower growth rates. Yet the blinkers are on.

Amer RAO Apr 08, 2016 03:49pm

Government should focus on small industry, electricity power and education.

Mustafa Apr 08, 2016 04:11pm

So what if 60 million are below poverty line, aren't we spending more than $ 60 million on nukes and bombs a year ?!

J USA Apr 08, 2016 04:23pm

33% living under poverty line?

J USA Apr 08, 2016 04:25pm

What % of Indian population under poverty line?

Steve Boston Apr 08, 2016 04:48pm

@Zeen No it is India

Steve Boston Apr 08, 2016 04:51pm

@liberal Can u imagine if they took the world bank bare which will 72000 Rs. a year. Under that condition the percentage will increase to 60%.

Faisal Apr 08, 2016 04:58pm

@J USA Dont divert, India is in better condition as compared to Pakistan, in almost all circles.

Erum Apr 08, 2016 05:22pm

Ask mullahs who say our women (which is half of the population ) should stay home and don't need to contribute towards economic development.

Truth is Apr 08, 2016 05:24pm

I think 0.8% Pakistanis are extreme rich, 38% - 45% are middle classes, rest are poor or extreme Poor. Don't travel in the cities like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi in search of poverty...

The poor population lives in Remote areas of Pakistan.

Erum Apr 08, 2016 05:25pm

And the gap between rich and poor is increasing. When I visited a mall in karachi, I didn't feel like I was in a poor country. However, there was a different world when I stepped out of the mall. I saw poor kids begging for food.

Jawad Apr 08, 2016 05:30pm

In America all those who work at McDonalds, KFC, Walmart, etc. are below poverty line especially if they have children. Poverty is every where except in socialist countries.

In a capitalistic environment the poverty can be reduced if you let the fit and smart people to run the country, let them grow and thrive and collect taxes from them and pass on to those who are poor not by choice. Then see the power of capitalism.

Truth Apr 08, 2016 05:46pm

Instead of empty talk of development, why does the Govt not copy India model: India growth is being driven by manufacturing. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” campaign aims by 2022 to create 100 million new factory jobs and increase manufacturing’s share of the economy. This is the way to go.

Azmeen Apr 08, 2016 05:47pm

It is not a crime to invest through offshore companies but real issue is from where those investments came & how?

Truth Apr 08, 2016 05:49pm

To defend their own wrong doing, PMLN cronies are simply maligning the highly reputable Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital which provides costly cancer care to the poor people of Pakistan. What a pity.

ah Apr 08, 2016 06:16pm

@nuh "How can you estimate the population under poverty line when you do not have a census for the last 20 years?"

You can estimate it with limited information, China's GDP being estimated using electric use as example. I am sure there are 100 of other indicators out there that you can use to forecast population in Pakistan with reasonable precision.

The point is not poverty line, the point why poverty is on rise in Pakistan?

ah Apr 08, 2016 06:18pm

If you still say why opposition talk about the stash money of PML(N)'s family overseas, I would say it can only happen in Pakistan!

Lost cause Apr 08, 2016 06:20pm

And you thought poverty is only in India. Let us fight it together to make our countries free from poverty.

A. Kazi Apr 08, 2016 06:22pm

@aslam shaikh It is combination of many things, and needed to work on many fronts. Issues are corruption, lack of real education, lck of security, unsustainable population growth, religious exterimism. Unless all of them are not dealt together it will be impossible to get the desired results.

Avais khan Apr 09, 2016 12:49pm

So, who is responsible for this? In my opinion we are culpable for this. Nawaz shareef is Prime Minister because we have elected him. From the comments it seems that there are so many intelligent and decent people in our country but still we vote these corrupt people. I mean its very strange how these corrupt people becomes our leader, although we know very well about them.