. .

Sep 18 - 24, 2000

Poverty rose during '90s

The World Bank said on Thursday that "bad governance" and fall in revenues were responsible for increased poverty in Pakistan.

"The performance of successive governments in Pakistan had been disappointing due to bad governance...that ultimately increased poverty in the country," maintained John Wall, WB's director for Pakistan and Afghanistan. "There has been deterioration in revenues and governance".

Attacking Poverty on Thursday, he said the situation in '50s and '70s was good as there was eradication of poverty to a good extent. "But in '90s things were bad due to bad governance".

He was asked, by a participant, why there was no poverty alleviation in Pakistan despite the WB's considerable funding, particularly for the social action programme, Mr Wall said that there was no serious shortage of funding and that sufficient resource allocation had also been made available but still things did not work in the past.

The WB's country chief said that Pakistan's total budgetary resources were 15 per cent of the GDP. "Out of this, 5pc goes into civil administration, 4pc to defence and the rest to debt servicing. And (therefore) nothing is left for development purposes," he elaborated.

He stated that governments could not run their affairs with just 15pc of the GDP and that there was a need to increase revenues.

He pointed out that if much resources were put in for development purposes, it would increase the budget deficit. Therefore, he added, there was a need to balance the resources and their spending in various sectors.

Mr Wall said that SAP was a great disappointment and as it did not significantly contribute to eradication of poverty. He stressed the need for giving serious thought to uplift the social sector.

New strategy will reduce poverty, says Shaukat

Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Thursday that poverty reduction in the country had been made the focus of economic policy. "We have worked very closely with the World Bank to develop a viable strategy to attack poverty. The final articulation of our strategy will come in the form of Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)."

He said the PRSP had been prepared in broader consultation with the donor community and added that the interim PRSP was ready and being discussed with stakeholders.

Consistent with the message of the world development report, the PRSP is a three-dimensional attack on poverty: a) providing opportunities to the poor through revival of growth mainly through the private sector and exploitation of indigenous resources. Public sector support will focus on small public works programmes. b) facilitating empowerment through devolution of power, reforms in the civil service, police and judiciary, and adoption of credible anti-corruption measures. c) enhancing security through the food support programme, micro-credit bank, revamping of the Zakat system, and reforms in the pension system.

CPI up by 4.71%

Inflation as measured by Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 4.71% during July-Aug, compared to corresponding period of last year, according to the Monthly Review of Price Indices issued by the Federal Bureau of Statistics Tuesday.

During the month of Aug, the CPI went up by 4.43% over the corresponding period of last year. Strangely, the FBS claims that the month saw a decrease of 0.06% in CPI when compared with July 2000.

As regards the Sensitive Price Index (SPI), it registered an increase of 3.90% in July-Aug compared to the same period in '99 when it had increased by 3.05% over the first two months of '98-99. In Aug, it had gone up by 4.01%, signifying a sharp spurt over Aug '99. In the latter period, the SPI had increased by 2.61%.

The Wholesale Price Index shows considerable movement in the FBS's review. It registered an increase of 3.55% in July-Aug, and of 2.87% in the same period of '99 compared to corresponding period of previous year.

Marble sector development

The small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority's (SMEDA) marble and granite sector development plan will shortly be forwarded to the Chief Executive Secretariat for the approval, sources told.

The Federal Minister for Commerce Abdur Razzaq Dawood will preside over a meeting on 21st, in Peshawar during which SMEDA will make a final presentation to him on its marble and granite sector development plan.

Pakistan, China to boost cooperation

Chairman National Highway Authority Maj Gen Viqar ul Haq Khan Khalid has said the government is taking pragmatic steps for construction of highways in Pakistan.

The chairman was talking to the technical expert team of China on Wednesday. An eight-member team of Chinese technical experts is visiting Pakistan nowadays in order to take a detailed review of the Karakorum Highway.

The chairman of NHA said, Pakistan and China were already cooperating each other in road building sector and there was a vast capacity of further cooperation.

German permits

More than 10,000 foreign computer specialists have so far applied for work permits under Germany's "green card" programme to attract badly-needed expertise, the Federal Labour Office said on Wednesday in Nuremberg.

The office said that the applicants were led by people from Romania, followed by Pakistan and India.

Around 700 German companies had posted job offers on the special website set up by the office to bring foreign experts and local employers together. In the first six weeks of the programme German labour offices had issued 1,581 permits.

Exploration licence extension

The government is likely to extend exploration licence of Ocean Pakistan which drilled two off shore wells for another 18 months to continue the exploration activities in Gwadar and Pishin blocks.

According to a proposal by the ministry of petroleum and natural resources (P&NR) that request of the company for an extension of the exploration licences for the Pasni and Gwadar blocks for 18 months until Dec 31, 2001 should be accepted.