Economic Survey 2017-18: People living below poverty line plunge to 24.3pc

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LAHORE: The Economic Survey 2018 revealed Pakistan’s percentage of people living below the poverty line has fallen to 24.3 percent in 2015-16 from 50.4 percent in 2005-06.

According to the Economic Survey, Pakistan’s poverty headcount has registered a prominent decline in the last decade or so at both the regional and national levels.

The country’s poverty headcount has exhibited a continuous fall at both the regional and national levels, with poverty in rural and urban areas showing a declining trend with a poverty headcount of 12.5 percent 30.7 percent and 12.5 percent respectively in 2015-16.

The fall in poverty shows more prominence in urban areas than rural areas, reported the Economic Survey 2018.

Some of the major reasons which contributed to this fall in poverty headcount since 2005-06 were poverty alleviation reduction programmes like “Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), improved political situation, peace and tranquility, strong recovery from low GDP growth rate of 1.7% in 2008-09 to 4.5% in 2015-16, continued higher inflows of remittances especially from Middle East which are destined to relatively poor families and above all a more inclusive characteristics of economic growth,” said the report.

Largest percentage fall in poverty headcount was witnessed in the year 2013-14 when national poverty headcount decreased by 6.8 percentage points with 6.2 percentage points fall in urban and 7.5 percent in rural areas.

Also, poverty headcount has exhibited a fall of 5.7 percentage points in urban areas and 4.9 percentage points in rural areas during the period 2014-2016, contributing to an overall fall of 5.2 percentage points in the incidence of national poverty headcount.

According to the Economic Survey 2018, Pakistan has posted a remarkable fall in poverty incidence since the year 2007-08.

Normal intersurvey decline was recorded at approximately 7 percentage point with the only exception being the year 2010-11.

Intersurvey fall in poverty headcount was inconsequential in 2011-12 against the 2010-11 survey, reported the Economic Survey 2018.

Two reasons were cited for this performance which was mainly that inter-survey period may not have been period sufficient to note a meaningful fall in poverty at regional and national levels.

The second was the disastrous floods in 2010-11 which dealt a blow to the rural population whose income and livelihood ended up being impacted significantly by these floods.

But the Economic Survey 2018 highlighted “Overall, despite floods of 2010 and chronic energy shortages, aggravated security situation and government’s limited capacity to mobilize and channelize its own resources exclusively for social welfare and poverty eradication programmes, the declining trend in Poverty headcount in Pakistan is both promising and encouraging.”

“Strong resurgence of economic growth, more provincial autonomy to shape and spearhead their own social welfare and poverty eradication programmes and targeted social safety nets programme of BISP have all been the main drivers of poverty decline in the past.”

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