President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said it’s good to see PTI led Government taking some tangible steps towards the fulfilment of their promise to make Pakistan a poverty free nation by following an example the “Chinese” model for the reduction of poverty. The dramatic progress in reducing poverty over the past three decades in China is well known. According to the World Bank, more than 500 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty as China’s poverty rate fell from 88 percent in 1981 to 6.5 percent in 2016, as measured by the percentage of people living on the equivalent of US$1.90 or less per day in 2015. Government’s vision for the establishment of a new Ministry of Social Protection / Poverty Alleviation to address the current fragmentation is welcome.
The Veteran Business Leader told the business community that various institutions likes the BISP, PBM, Zakat & Ushr Department would be working under that ministry, which would develop a one-window operation for social protection of the poor and to facilitate citizens. Prime minister’s promise to introduce a new constitutional amendment to move Article 38(d) from the “Principles of Policy” section to the “Fundamental Rights” section shows the sincerity of government towards the eradication of poverty because this article right now suggests that food, clothing, shelter, health and education of the people should be considered when devising a policy, but after the proposed amendment these 5 things will become “fundamental right” instead of just a mere policy suggestion and the people of Pakistan will have a right to demand food, shelter, clothing, healthy living and education as their right which is promised by the constitution of Pakistan and this will also enable people to contest for the same against any incumbent government in the court of law.
The Former Minister expressed his relieve over the program’s objective for the economic empowerment of the women through “Kafalat” initiative that will be a subsidiary of existing Benazir Income Support Program. Under Kafalat initiative 5.7 million women would be given savings accounts under the “one woman, one bank account plan”. Also under this program the government will provide rural women with buffalos, cows, goats and hens. Which is a test method of poverty alleviation worldwide, he added
Provision of goats could be both income generating and nutrition boosting. Similarly, he said a kitchen gardening initiative announced by the Premier to provide subsidised certified seed and seedlings to the farmer could produce a greater yield thus improving overall welfare of the people.
Mian Zahid Hussain also welcomes Imran Khan’s plan to launch “Tahafuz” program which is aimed towards the protection of individuals from catastrophic risks – a transparent and traceable digital system of cash transfers through which the government would give legal aid, education grants and health assistance to those without Insaf card entitlements.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that Pakistan ranks 150 among the 189 countries on the Human Development Index, whereas other countries in the region like India ranks 130, Bangladesh at 136, Iran at 60 and China at 86th rank. Imran Khan’s Ehsaas program and all its affiliated programs if carried out effectively and efficiently with the sincere will to up lift 39% of Pakistan’s population who lives below poverty line and to bring about a positive change in their lives then no doubt it will help alleviate poverty and improve the UN’s human development index rank and will go down in the annals of Pakistan’s human development history as a great milestone towards becoming a welfare state. Inflation rate was set to be 5.2 percent for the current fiscal year but it attained the five years’ high to 9.4 percent given to USD appreciation, supplementary budget, and rise in petroleum. Increased inflation, reduction of Rs. 370 billion in FBR collection, increased mark up, reduced business activities are not only troubling the general public but the business community.