Launch of PRSP-II Progress Report 2009-10:
Social Protection Strategy benefits over 6 million poor; BISP tops all social protection programmes;
More budgetary allocation required for health, education
The four-pronged Social Protection Strategy of the federal government comprising income support, human resource development, natural disaster management and enhanced role of private and non government sector in poverty reduction benefited 6.07 million poor by ensuring sustainable livelihood for them.
Annual progress report on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)-II based on monitoring and review of pro poor spending in fiscal year 2009-10 launched here Saturday said flagship programmes of Pakistan Baitul Maal (PBM), Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Microfinance and Zakat have been four major contributors in providing relief to the poor and the marginalized women, elderly, destitute, widows, orphans, needy, students and people with multiple diseases. The PRSP-II report is ninth in the series and is being prepared every year by the PRSP Secretariat at the Ministry of Finance.
The progress report noted that annual allocations for education and health sectors are alarmingly low as compared to other countries in South Asia causing serious setback to our efforts to achieve MDGs targets. According to the report BISP and Microfinance are the two biggest poverty reduction programmes that have potential to further grow and help end poverty in the country. The Post-18th Amendment devolution of major subjects covered under PRSP-II would be a major challenge in terms of monitoring and evaluation.
Speaking on the launching ceremony, Member Infrastructure Planning Commission, G.M. Marri said poverty reduction has been a priority area in planning and development process despite pressures on the economy due to natural disasters and war on terror.
Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at the PRSP Secretariat Nouman Ghani in his presentation discussed in details budgetary and non-budgetary expenditures incurred on the pro poor programme as commitment to achieve targets set in the PRSP-II and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He said during 2009-10, budgetary support for pro poor expenditures has been Rs 42.26 billion (48% of total pro poor spending) which benefitted 4.4 million poor, non budgetary support has been Rs 11.75 billion (13% of total pro poor spending) which benefited 1.67 million people and microfinance support has been Rs 33.77 billion (39% of total pro poor spending) which benefitted 1.97 million people.
The net amounts disbursed during fiscal year 2009-10 through pro poor flagship programmes includes: Pakistan Baitul Maal (Rs 2261 million), Benazir Income Support Programme (Rs 32,000 million), Zakat (Rs 2874 million), Employees Old Age Benefits-EOBI (Rs 6442 million), Workers Welfare Fund- WWF (Rs 2432) and Microfinance (Rs 33775 million).
Responding to a question regarding chance of a would-be dependency of the poor on the grants they receive through various poverty reduction programmes, National project Manger at the Secretariat Mr Sajjad Sheikh said these programme will not promote dependency as the government’s Social Protection Strategy focuses more on moving from direct cash transfers/disbursements to graduating toward income generating programmes such as Waseela Haq programme in BISP.
Earlier in her presentation, Mehwish Ashraf, consultant, said the expenditures incurred in pro poor sectors during 2009-10 were 7.57% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio, which was 3.075% higher than the 4.5% minimum limit set by Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act (FRDLA). This is even higher than the PRSP-II projections of 6.01% of the GDP. She said indicators in education sector reflect an overall increase in gross and net enrolments rate at both pre-secondary and secondary levels but still there is a need to enhance budgetary allocations generally for the social sector, particularly for education and health.