The Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan identified that the government scrutinizes pro-poor expenditure in dissimilar sectors by the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) under PRSP-II program. Expenditure on these pro-poor sectors is explaining growing trend in absolute terms also percent of GDP. The officials also identified in their statistics that during 2013-14 there was 7.7 percent of GDP, 8.3 percent of GDP during 2014-15, 9.3 percent in 2015-16, 9.5 percent in 2016-17, while slightly dropped to 9.2 percent of GDP in 2017-18 but in absolute terms increased to Rs 3,167.92 billion.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) released 50th edition of its annual statistical report: key indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2019. The report identified that the extreme poverty (or below $1.9 per day poverty line) in Pakistan has gone down from 28.6 percent of total population in 2001 to 3.9 percent in 2015. The report added that on the basis of National Poverty Line, Pakistan’s poverty ratio fell to 24.3 percent in 2015 as against to 64.3 percent in 2001.
Recently Prime Minister Khan has launched a comprehensive Poverty Alleviation Program ‘Ehsaas’ on 27th March, 2019 with its 4 focus regions and 155 policy actions to decline inequality, invest in people and uplift lagging districts. It was estimated that under this program, the Government of Pakistan would allocate an extra amount of Rs.80 billion in Pakistan’s social protection spending in the budget 2019-20 that would be raised to Rs.120 billion in 2021. No doubt, Ehsaas is a poverty elevation program. Prime Minister urged during the launching ceremony, that the government is launching the help programs for street children, and for transgenders who are treated so cruelly in Pakistan. There will be a special crackdown on bonded labor. The daily laborers will be assisted and protected under the Tahaffuz program. Bait-ul-Maal will fund homes for 10,000 orphaned children. Furthermore, to assist women, at village levels particularly the government will empower them with livestock by which they can get milk, they could feed their kids. It is also recorded that the program is for the extreme poor, orphans, widows, homeless, disabled, jobless, poor farmers, laborers, sick and undernourished; students from low-income backgrounds and for poor women and elderly citizens.
This plan is also about lifting lagging areas where poverty is higher. Four pillars include: addressing elite capture and making the government system work to create equality; safety nets for disadvantaged segments of the population; careers/jobs and livelihoods; and human capital development.
Prime Minister Imran Khan elaborated Article-38 of the Constitution of Pakistan and said that “the first change the government is bringing is the Article 38-D which says the government must feed people, take care of their health, it is a policy in the constitution. But the government is amending it and converting it into a fundamental right. The Government of Pakistan has also announced the establishment of a new Ministry of Social Protection/Poverty Alleviation to address the current fragmentation. Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal, Zakat, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, Trust for Voluntary Organizations, the SUN Network, Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Secretariats of the Poverty Alleviation Coordination Council and the Labor Expert Group would work under this ministry by developing a one-window operation for social protection of the poor and to facilitate citizens.
Furthermore, the Government of Pakistan has always been an ideologue of a welfare Islamic state emphasized on the rules laid down by the holy Prophet (PBUH) years ago. In November 2018, the present government also approved a social protection framework. The framework reportedly has been planned which addresses problems of poverty, health, stunted growth, education and would enable the youth to realize their potential and extricate themselves out of the generational poverty traps.
Statistics showed that in the country child mortality rate is high because of unavailability of proper health facilities. Approximately 45 children face issues in their mental growth because of improper food available to them. The government has also introduced Sehat Card policy to offer the poor people with equal health opportunities. It is worth noting that the Sehat Card included medicinal coverage of more than Rs0.7 million for needy people.