Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday said the government was committed to alleviate poverty as progress and prosperity of Pakistan was linked with uplift of poor and downtrodden segments of the society.

“It is my belief that a country where there is an ocean of poor people and few rich cannot make progress,” he said while speaking at launch of Ehsaas District Development Portal ‘Data 4 Pakistan,’ here.

The prime minister said a civilized society cared for its poor, it was identified not how the rich spend their lives but how the poor were living.

He said this portal would help the government in spending development funds with justice and according to needs of the people.

He said unfortunately the powerful people in government spent all the development funds in their constituencies thus widening the gap between the rich and poor.

Lamenting the policies and practice of the previous governments, the prime minister said, ground realities were not considered in the budget allocations at that time and more than half of Punjab’s budget was being spent on uplift of Lahore alone resultantly the metropolis became developed but other cities were ignored.

The prime minister also referred to Isakhel tehsil of Mianwali and Dera Ghazi Khan district of Punjab, which were backward in health, education and infrastructure, but were ignored by the past governments.

He said the government would focus on equal development of all the areas.

He said this portal would help identify the areas which were in most need of funds, besides finding other vital statistics about issues being faced by the local people.

The prime minister said this was the first step in finding necessary ways and means to fight poverty. He said Data4Pakistan would also help in policy making at the higher level as well as allocation of budget.

He said the earmarking of the budget would be on need and merit basis, without any political or other influences.

Earlier, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar said Data4Pakistan, the first initiative of its kind in the country, provided open and public access to a spatial interactive portal that had poverty estimates for every district in Pakistan, along with over 120 development and policy indicators.

She said the portal currently had six rounds of district poverty and development data, covering the period 2004-2018.

This portal would be a very valuable resource for federal, provincial and district level policymakers, for decision making, she said.

She said part of Ehsaas strategy, the Data4Pakistan Portal had been developed in collaboration with the World Bank.

She said interactive maps allowed the user to visualize and compare districts on poverty and two additional indicators.

The innovative portal used data produced by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, as part of its Social and Living Standards Measurement Surveys as well as the multiple indicators Custer Surveys produced by the provincial bureaus of statistics, she said.

Dr Nishtar said the indicators currently available in the portal, included a range of demographic, health, education and employment statistics as well as access to key services like water, sanitation, electricity and gas.

It also provides a number of gender parity indices at the district level.