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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Jan 10, 2017

Inequality: Economists urge to intensify poverty alleviation

Pakistan will have to intensify and enhance its efforts on poverty alleviation to eradicate poverty in all its forms. The need for dealing with multidimensional poverty is urgent in its nature and thus demands a multifaceted strategy to bring about actual change at different levels.
A panel of senior economists expressed these views on Monday during the seminar ‘Poverty as Functional Deprivation’, organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute Monday, said a press release.
The suggested that in the next 15-to-20 years would be decisive for the economic future of Pakistan as this would be an era offering a number of opportunities and challenges simultaneously.
Dr Rafi Amiruddin, while presenting the multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) as a new measure of poverty, said that commitments under the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at tackling the multifaceted nature of poverty by committing to “ending poverty in all its forms”.
However, he said, no consensus has been reached upon the definition and measurement of poverty.
He explained that going beyond money-based measures, recent understanding had shown that poverty meant much more than just lack of income. Hence, the scope of MPI had to be very broad to include social exclusion, hunger, unemployment, and ill-heath.
Dr Amiruddin added further that their estimates suggested that the global poverty has only modestly come down by four percentage points – from 35% in 1990-2000 to 31% in 2001-2010. This contrasts sharply with estimates based on the World Bank’s poverty line, which suggests that poverty had been halved from 47% in 1990 to 24% in 2015.
Likewise, he said, poverty in Pakistan was 55% in the initial period, which came down by five percentage points to 50% in a decade (2001-2010). Without sufficiently enlarging our focus to include important dimensions of wellbeing in our analysis and without distinguishing the relative importance of those dimensions, we might miss many aspects of poverty and deprivation which blight human lives in extremely unpleasant ways, he concluded.
Renowned economist Dr GM Arif was of view that the government of Pakistan was trying to alleviate poverty by income support through BISP, but poverty has many dimensions and needed to be dealt with using a multi-sectoral strategy. He said policymakers must include area-wise vulnerability in the strategies aiming to combat poverty.
He said CPEC and youth bulge offer huge opportunities for Pakistan to include them in poverty alleviation plans. However, it could not be achieved without applying a people-centric approach to draw the full benefits of these opportunities.
Earlier, Dr Sajid Amin, co-author of the study and head of the SDPI Policy Solutions Lab, explained the importance of correct measurement of poverty for better and result oriented efforts for poverty alleviation. He said that reducing poverty in all its form was a major SDG commitment and required Pakistan to execute its poverty alleviation strategies in better ways.