Poverty Declined in Pakistan; 22% People Living Below Poverty Line

September 28, 2021

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government told the National Assembly that poverty has decreased in Pakistan, with around 22% of the population living below the poverty line.According to the latest poverty headcount based on the 2018-19 Household Integrated Economic Survey, 21.9 percent of the population lives in poverty, according to the minister in charge of the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division (HIES).

According to the minister in question, the government uses the HIES data to estimate the number of poor people living below the poverty line in Pakistan using the Cost of Basic Need (CBN) method.The house was informed that the most recent HIES was conducted to measure poverty in the fiscal year 2018-19 – the first year of the PTI government.CBN-based headcount declined by 2.4 percent point, from 24.3 percent in 2015-16 to 21.9 percent in 2018-19.

“The ratio of poverty also showed a declining trend at national level between 2010-11 and 2018-19,” the minister continued, “as poverty declined from 36.8% in 2010-11 to 21.9 percent in 2018-19.” Poverty has decreased in both urban and rural areas, according to the minister.The information was obtained after PPP MNA Mahreen Razzaq Bhutto requested that the minister share the number of people living in poverty, as well as the yardstick or criteria used to identify them.Mahreen also inquired as to when the most recent survey was conducted to measure poverty in the country, as well as the details of its increase and decrease over the previous five years.

Meanwhile, the house has been informed that a new survey to determine the beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is being conducted and will be completed by the end of this month.A new survey has started and will be completed by the end of September 2021 to recertify the socioeconomic status of currently eligible beneficiaries and to identify new beneficiaries. In 2010-11, BISP conducted its first ever survey. While the recertification and new survey are taking place, a policy decision has been made to apply additional filters to the existing data.

This is possible because over the last decade, a number of administrative databases have become available, making it possible to conduct such data analyses.It was also revealed that Nadra conducted a BISP beneficiary profiling exercise in December 2019 on a total of 5,783,389 BISP beneficiaries, resulting in the identification of 820,165 beneficiaries.

It stated that the policy decision does not imply that 820,165 former beneficiaries were ineligible at the time of the survey ten years ago, but rather that additional filters can now be applied.The Poverty Score Card (PSC) survey determined that these people were eligible because their poverty score was below the set threshold.

Meanwhile, when a lawmaker from the opposition benches pointed out that the ruling party had once again failed to complete quorum, the session had to be adjourned.Since the start of the fourth parliamentary year, not a single session has been completed without being abruptly adjourned due to the lawmakers’ absence from the Treasury benches.

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