ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal has said that government would constitute an open forum to measure rate of poverty in the country, as forum would include politicians, academicians, economists and experts that would provide credibility, acceptance, authenticity, transparency and ownership to measuring poverty.

He said this while chairing a high level meeting of technical group on poverty held on Friday.

Leading economists from and outside the Planning Commission participated. Purpose of the meeting was to standardise data on poverty so that it could be used for policy makers for the purpose of poverty reduction and development.

In his opening remarks, Ahsan Iqbal said, “Poverty alleviation is a key priority of the present government. There is difference of opinion on rate of poverty among different economists, which causes confusion among policy makers to tackle this issue. To move forward in poverty reduction, we have to do away with defects in poverty data. We want to move empirically in poverty reduction; therefore, our data must be accurate. Federal Government accords high priority to accuracy of data and is working to reform Federal Bureau of Statistics to provide accurate and timely input for the future economic growth and policymaking. Vision 2025 focuses on inclusive growth. We do not believe in number-driven growth, which benefits only a certain class of people, rather a growth that is a broad-based and which drastically reduces poverty.

Focus of our policies would be on vertical as well as horizontal poverty reduction. With the advent of 21st century, paradigms of development have drastically changed. Industrial era of muscle power is over; now is the age of brain power and information revolution. Those who do not have access to knowledge and information will be at disadvantage. Without bridging the digital divide, dream of poverty alleviation cannot come true. We cannot build an ivory tower on a big mass of poverty”.

Iqbal, while commenting on accuracy and methodology of data collection said, “We must comply with the practices used world over and especially which are consistent in the region. Data has developmental implications and it should be in line with regional benchmarks. To tackle with the issues of determinations of poverty line, consumer price index and methodology of survey, there should be a consensus-based mechanism. There is need of the hour that we determine new poverty line.