Islamabad - Poverty has seen over 50 percent reduction during the past one decade as the percentage of people living below poverty line has declined from 50.4 percent in 2005-06 to 24.3 percent in 2015-16.

“In 2013-14, a total of 29.5 percent Pakistanis were living under poverty line which has been decreased to 24.3 percent during 2015-16,” said Pakistan Economic Survey (PES) 2017-18.

Pakistan’s poverty headcount has witnessed a persistent decline both at national and regional levels, the PES said. “Percentage of people living below poverty line has declined from 50.4% in 2005-06 to 24.3% in 2015-16. Poverty in both rural and urban areas has also been on the declining trend with poverty headcount of 12.5% in urban and 30.7% in rural areas in 2015-16. The decline in poverty is more pronounced in urban areas than rural areas,” it said.

“Targeted poverty reduction programmes like BISP, relative political stability, peace and tranquility, strong recovery from low GDP growth rate of 1.7 percent in 2008-09 to 4.5 percent in 2015-16, continued higher inflows of remittances especially from Middle East which are destined to relatively poor families and above all a more inclusive characteristics of economic growth, are some of the important causes that can be attributed to a significant decline in the poverty headcount since 2005-06,” the report said.

“As compared to 2011-12, the largest percentage decline in poverty headcount was observed in the year 2013-14 when national poverty headcount was declined by 6.8 percentage points with 6.2 percentage points decline in urban and 7.5 percentage points in rural areas. Poverty headcount has declined by 5.7 percentage points in urban areas and 4.9 percentage points in rural areas between 2014 and 2016, thereby leading to an overall decline of 5.2 percentage points decline in the incidence of national poverty headcount,” the report said. The decline in poverty is phenomenal in Pakistan since 2007-08 and normal inter survey decline is around 7-percentage point with the only exception is 2010-11. The inter survey decline in poverty headcount was insignificant in 2011-12 compared to the 2010-11 survey. There can be two possible undertones for this low performance. First, the inter-survey period may not be a period sufficient to observe a meaningful decline in poverty both at national and regional levels. Two, catastrophic floods of 2010-11 hit a significant blow to the rural populace whose income and livelihoods were severely affected by these floods, the report further said.

The economic survey further said that overall, despite floods of 2010 and chronic energy shortages, the aggravated security situation and government’s limited capacity to mobilize and channelize its own resources exclusively for social welfare and poverty eradication programmes, the declining trend in poverty headcount in Pakistan was both promising and encouraging.

“Strong resurgence of economic growth, more provincial autonomy to shape and spearhead their own social welfare and poverty eradication programmes and targeted social safety nets programme of BISP have all been the main drivers of poverty decline in the past,” the survey concluded.