IN a country with over 230 million people, there are reportedly 38 million beggars, with the average daily amount a beggar collects having been estimated to be Rs2,000 in Karachi, Rs1,400 in Lahore, and Rs950 in Islamabad. The national average amount per beggar is Rs850.

According to the report that is making waves on social media, these beggars extract Rs32 billion from people’s pockets every day in the form of charity. This amount, if authentic, translates into Rs117 trillion annually. In dollar terms, the amount is the equivalent of $42 billion.

Come to think of it, this is truely a double-edged sword. Simply put, these are 38 million non-productive individuals consuming $42 billion, and forcing the rest of the nation to put up with 21 per cent inflation.

We must eliminate this professional beggary, and if we do that, we will not regret our decision five years from now. We should learn from Bangladesh’s example. After getting rid of beggary from society, it was able to raise $52 billion in four years.

The money that is given to beggars is not used to produce goods or services, but rather to purchase existing goods and services. This drives up prices, leading to inflation.

The government should take action to address the problem. It would be better if the government provides employment opportunities to these people, and help them become useful members of society.

M. Abid Hafeez
Lahore

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2024

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