Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms on Friday revealed that about 30 percent people in the country are living below the poverty line.
To fund social protection effectively, it requires about 3.8 percent of GDP or Rs 1000 billion, said Poverty Alleviation and SDGs Planning Commission Chief Zafar-ul-Hassan while briefing the Senate Special Committee on Marginalized Segment of Society.
The committee met here with Nisar Muhammad in the chair where the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform gave briefing on policy as well as funding for the marginalized segments of society.
The committee was also briefed on Vision 2020-2025 of the government relating to the marginalized segments of society.
The chairman said that 30 percent of the population was living below poverty line in the country; however there was no anti-poverty policy in place.
The committee members expressed no confidence in the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), Bait-ul-Mal etc while saying that people having 50 acres are the beneficiary of BISP while others finding it difficult to get two meals are deprived. They further said that influential people were being entertained in the Bait-ul-Mal.
Ministry officials informed the committee that social protection related literature has been reviewed and draft Social Protection policy framework was developed. However, social protection has become a major responsibility of provinces after the 18th constitutional amendment and in this regard social protection authority established in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has evolved a policy in this regard, however, no work has been done in Balochistan on this matter. Work on Draft Social protection policy for Sindh is in progress (likely completion by end October 2016), officials added.
However, the officials said there are some challenges in this regard including identification and exit strategy issues, response, fragmentation of SP initiatives, inefficient and ineffective financial and accounting arrangements, duplication of services/ beneficiaries, governance issues like weak institutional mechanism, lack of political will, lack of reporting mechanisms, roles and responsibilities after devolution.
Ministry officials further said that vulnerable segments will be protected and encouraged by revamping and expanding the social protection system and social safety nets. Article 38 of Constitution of Pakistan would be implemented in letter and spirit.
Effective implementation of Plans of Action for Children, promotion of an inclusive education system for special children, enforcement of special quota in education and employment for non-Muslims and persons with special needs, encouraging sports activities for persons with disabilities, judicious utilisation of Pakistan Bait-ul-Maal and Zakat funds, eradication of beggary and special schemes for senior citizens to ensure their rights and make them socially and economically productive.
Establishment of a national social protection framework will harmonise federal, provincial and district level policies and programs to remove regional disparities as well as clarify the roles and responsibilities of respective governments. It will develop a range of strategies including prevention, mitigation and coping mechanisms for managing risk and vulnerability.
The agreed framework will take a multidimensional approach to social protection, official added. However, the committee expressed annoyance over the absence of Ministry’s senior officials from the meeting including Minister and Secretary as well as on the incomplete presentation.