“The poverty alleviation plan will be the most important part of the government’s 100 days in power and will be showcased to the Pakistani people in the coming days!” The new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who promoted anti-corruption movement before taking the inauguration ceremony, is now focusing on poverty alleviation. Considering that nearly a quarter of the country’s population is still below the poverty line, Imran Khan declared on the 10th that the government is planning to announce Pakistan’s first large-scale poverty alleviation plan in the text few days.
As Pakistan’s ‘Dawn’ reported on the 11th, Imran Khan attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the homeless rescue station project in Lahore, the capital of the eastern Punjab province. This project is the first program that has the substantial achievements in poverty alleviation and welfare programs that the government has been promoting since its inauguration. It is also the first poverty alleviation activity that Imran Khan attended after his visit to China.
Imran Khan praised the work of the Punjab Chief Minister Buzdar. “He personally saw all the places to choose the site of the rescue station and the construction of the project has started. “I hope that he can improve the status in the remote areas of southern Punjab to the level that can be compared with developed regions.”
According to Pakistan Radio, it is expected that a group of people can benefit from the rescue station. The rescue station provides a safe place to stay for the homeless, and will embody a simple, advanced design concept, but also be practical. It includes a multi-functions hall to provide skills training for the homeless and hold various public events to raise public awareness of major social issues. In addition, philanthropists provide healthy food to guarantee basic living needs for the rescuers.
He said that Pakistan had a large-scale financial crisis before, which made the government unable to focus on the building of poverty alleviation projects such as rescue stations in the first two and a half months. However, the government now has the ability to repay loans and interest through installments. “Today, we are taking the first step towards promoting people’s well-being. Since the country has got rid of the crisis of repaying loans, all efforts will be used to launch public welfare projects,” said Imran Khan. And in following seven to ten days, the government will start the poverty alleviation plan.
Punjab government plans to promote Islamic micro-financing
Punjab Finance Minister, Makhdoom Jawan Bakhat Hashim, was speaking at the Third Islamic Micro Finance Conference organized by Akhuwat Foundation and confirmed that the government will be focusing on Islamic micro-financing. He also emphasized that subsidy for traveling on metro buses will continue while unaccounted subsidy will be checked because the government will not allow anybody to misuse public tax money.
Ubaid-ur-Rehman, Additional Secretary Finance, said at the meeting that the government was subsidizing the metro buses and other projects in the transport sector including Lahore Transport Company (LTC). Besides, the government allocated Rs 12.9 billion for PMA and was subsidizing Lahore and Multan metro routes by 70 percent and feeder routes by 90 percent. He also told us that the PTI was committed to create change to the lowest level of the society, which could be achieved by micro-financing.
Punjab’s finance minister further addressed that federal and provincial governments were all promoting Islamic micro financing for poverty eradication and economic stability. What’s more, Punjab government started interest-free loans for the agriculture sector in collaboration with Akhuwat Foundation while a number of areas still need work where the potential of micro-financing exists.
How does the micro-financing benefit the people’s life?
Telenor Microfinance Bank cooperate with Careem, one of the most popular and trusted rides service in the country, making it easy to start rickshaw financing in installments. This partnership is in accordance with the mission of the Careem and Telenor Microfinance Bank, which empowers the Pakistani people through the way of new and easy income, as the same time promoting the country’s economic and financial inclusion. Under the agreement, customers can easily purchase new rickshaws in installments within 22 months.
In addition to providing asset ownership to drivers, the partnership will provide them with a stable source of income through Careem. As an affordable and convenient means of transportation, the rickshaw market is growing in Pakistan to meet the demand/supply gaps. This undeveloped market provides an opportunity for digital organizations such as Telenor Bank and Careem to create innovative solutions.
“This partnership relations will create an opportunity for Pakistan’s employment and entrepreneurial work and effectively addressing the challenges of unemployment by empowering people to create their own income and assets,” said Shahid Mustafa, President and CEO of Telenor Microfinance Bank.
“We are pleased to work with Careem on simple financing of rickshaw as it will help to provide more affordable and convenient travel options for millions of Pakistanis who had encountered inconvenience in public transportation. To give back to the community, Careem worked with the Edhi Foundation to provide ambulance services through smartphones. Founded in 1951 by Abdus Sattar Edhi, the Edhi Foundation operates the world’s largest volunteer ambulance service and provides 24-hour emergency services throughout Pakistan.
Poverty alleviation strategies
The federal government also decided to allocate 200 billion rupees to the Kamyab Jawan plan, which will help strengthen the ability of 1 million young people. With the support of the National Bank of Pakistan, a micro and micro-financing strategy was developed. In this case, a meeting was held in Islamabad, with the participation of (former) Finance Minister Assad Omar and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Youth, Usman Dahl. In his speech, Assad Omar said that young people must be prepared because the government will provide them with a good solution. He said the government is taking serious steps to help young people succeed. Usman Dahl also said that we will also launch more projects for young people. And the period of providing employment and business will begin immediately.
Low-income people in developing countries in Asia have been assisted through microfinance, or used a small amount of money to help companies start. One such scheme in Pakistan helps women be economically independent.
Sumeera operates this beauty parlor in a suburb of Islamabad. She didn’t have enough money to buy quality cosmetics and equipment, so she made a loan of less than $700, which allowed her to purchase materials and decorate the beauty salon. Today, she said that if it was not a microfinance service, she will not start a business. “When I started, I could only afford cheap cosmetics,” she said. “But through small loans, I can buy quality products and my store has a good reputation and attracts more customers.
Sumeera obtained loans from a Pakistani bank specializing in micro-financing. The bank has a loan of up to $1,400 and the borrower has 18 months to repay. In the past five years, one of the bank’s investors has been the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The agency aims to help women become economically self-sufficient. More than 200,000 people in Pakistan used microfinance services last year.
One of them is Shehnaz Bibi, who said that microfinance allows her to expand her business. “By borrowing money, I can make and sell clothes,” she said. Bibi said that women who want to do a business face many challenges, such as getting funding. The society developed slowly due that Pakistani women are strongly opposed to working outside the home.
Akira Oda, the JICA Pakistan office representative, said: “We hope to help women become economically self-reliant by creating jobs and improving living conditions.” “Women account for 30% of microfinance borrowers.” Financial Services is not available for about half of Pakistan’s adult population. But they found solution in microfinance projects, which is the key to getting rid of poverty.
“Every journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”, Imran Khan quoted a Chinese proverb in his speech, praising that the starting of poverty alleviation plan marked the first step in Pakistan’s transition to a welfare state. He also called on all government departments to work together and work with the same step on poverty alleviation.
“Ehsas” will provide health insurance for the poor and make it easier for them to get loans when building and purchasing a house. The program also has poverty alleviation measures for women, which will provide bail-out package and mobile phones to about 5.7 million of the poorest women, and 50% of women will receive scholarships and education vouchers. In addition, Imran Khan also intends to amend the Constitution to include basic necessities such as food, housing, education and medical care as a basic right, written in the Constitution.
Zaidi, a political analyst in Pakistan, said: “In the first national speech of Imran Khan, he used a long page to talk about national nutrition, child protection, education, maternal and child health and so on, which is quite surprising. Through Ehsas, he showed his ambition to abolish poverty.” So we firmly believe that Pakistan will lead its people out of poverty and become a remarkable and legendary country.