Poor Getting Poorer

Posted on 25 November 2009 by PakBee - Total hits: 1,994

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Pakistani Poor Peoples

The poor in Pakistan have been doubly hit by the economic crisis that grips the country today. While inflation and unemployment have taken a heavy toll on their spending power, cuts in sectors that provide services to those living below the poverty line have naturally hurt them more.

And it is ironical that all this has happened at a time when the government’s subsidies have actually gone up by 226 per cent in the last one year. This might appear to be a paradox but it confirms one basic fact.

As Pakistan’s economic pie shrinks, the government — a people’s government — is grabbing the country’s dwindling resources for the rich.

A people-friendly administration would have redistributed the available funds more judiciously to give maximum benefit to the poor. The rich can, after all, look after themselves.

Take the case of subsidies. Quite a chunk of these go to subsidise the corruption and inefficiency of the privileged classes in the food, manufacturing and energy sectors.

In spite of the large amounts spent, food and electricity are becoming unaffordable for the poor.

One cannot deny that the government faces a liquidity crunch and has had to slash its expenditure. But why on social sectors such as education and housing and not on the ostentatious lifestyle of the top-heavy administration?

Now it is being predicted that the development budget will also suffer a cut with the social sectors bearing the crunch. Those living below the poverty line using government schools and hospitals will have to bear the brunt of the decline in quality of services.

Unsurprisingly, the government’s extravagant spending on the administration and its failure to prioritise its expenditure have made the situation even bleaker for the poor.

Funds earmarked for them, such as the Benazir Income Support Programme that is to go to five million families, have failed to neutralise the onslaught of poverty.

Should one, therefore, have been surprised when the State Bank in its recently released annual report stated that poverty had increased by 2.3 per cent in Pakistan and now stands at 36.1 per cent?

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