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Chapter_4 Poverty in Pakistan

Chapter_4 Poverty in Pakistan



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Published by Qaisar Wahab Aimal
Chapter 4 Poverty in Pakistan
Chapter 4 Poverty in Pakistan

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Published by: Qaisar Wahab Aimal on Jan 14, 2009
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lic institutions to be able to better respond to the needs of the poor, assisting them economically thr 
T here is no general or system
inPakistan. social protection Neither is there anumbrella institution thatwould extend social protection andsocial safety nets to the poor and thevulnerable. However, a number of  programs aimed at improvinggovernance and accountability of  public institutions to be able to better respond to the needs of the poor,assisting them economically throughcreating income and employmentopportunities, and improving their access to basic services are beingimplemented by the government, NGOs and the private sector. Each of these sectors operates in a distinctmanner as discussed in this section.
To mitigate the causes o poverty, the Government hasrecently introduced severalimportant governance-relatedreforms to improve the functioningof State institutions and strengthentheir capacity and accountabilitywith an aim to provide greater publicaccess to better quality social sector related, judicial, and other services.Historically, various other poverty-targeted policy interventions and programs have also been initiatedfrom time to time in the public sector in Pakistan, which can becategorized into three broad sectors: public works programs for assetcreation and employmentgeneration; micro finance programsto promote income opportunities;and social protection programs. Inthe paras that follow, the majoelements of governance reformsintroduced by the Government arediscussed first, followed by adiscussion on the policies and programs undertaken within thelatter three sectoral areas. Anassessment of an ambitious publicsector social sector developmentinitiative, the SAP is then presented.The section concludes on adiscussion of the presentGovernment's poverty reductionstrategy.
Governance Reforms
a. Devolution Plan
The Devolution Plan announcedin March 2000, is a fundamentalgovernance reform that aims toreplace the existing highlycentralized and control orientedgovernment with a three tiered localgovernment system that institutes"people-centered, rights andresponsibility-based, and serviceoriented" government structures.Under the aegis of the Plan, electedlocal governments took power on 14August 2001 in 96 districts in thefour provinces.The bulk of basic 'povertyfocused' services, like health andeducation, have been devolved todistrict and lower local governmentsunder the Plan. Provinces, once predominantly responsible foservice delivery, will assume newresponsibilities to support andsupervise the performance of localgovernments, not as administrativeappendages of the provincial bureaucracy, but as independentcorporate bodies accountable to theelectorate through political leaders.In addition to elected councils,the Local Government Ordinance2001 provides a number of 
olution Plan to make a difference by promoting competition, ownership and accountability in delivery of public services.
institutionalized opportunities for citizen's participation in council affairs. CitizenCommunity Boards (CCBs), and PublicSafety and Justice Committees will monitor local government activities. CCBs are alsoempowered to prioritize investments for upto 25 percent of the local development budget for basic infrastructures andservices.Given the need to utilize availableresources more effectively in order toimprove social indicators in the mediumterm, the Government is relying heavily onthe Devolution Plan to make a difference by promoting competition, ownership andaccountability in delivery of public services,and by involving people more actively incommunity issues. However, internationalexperience has shown that devolution takestime to have an impact. Also, technical andinstitutional capacity at the district and locallevels is extremely weak, and unless a major capacity building initiative to address this problem is implemented quickly theexpected improvements will not beforthcoming.
b. Access to Justice
The Government has introduced severalreforms, and is in the process of initiatingothers (Box 4.1), to improve theadministration of, and access to, justice inthe country. Foremost among them is theseparation of the judiciary from theexecutive, and the placement of theexecutive magistracy under the judiciaryfollowing the abolishment of the office of the Deputy Commissioner as part of thelocal Government reforms. Further, theGovernment has proposed building on thestrengths of existing local conflict resolutionsystems such as the
to establishnew institutions, to be called
Masalihat  Anjumans
(Conciliation Committees), for quick resolution of private disputes at therespective local levels.The Government has also committed toreduce the large time-lag between filing of court cases and finalization of case decisionsthat has historically existed in the judicialsystem. As a first step in this direction, priority attention has been paid to cases pending before the courts that were filedunder the Family Laws. It is reported that,consequently, only those family law casesthat were filed in year 2000 are still pending before the courts. Further, the proposedreorganization of the police system with anaim to upgrade its professional standardsand enhance its accountability at the locallevel is a welcome step in the direction of improving access of the citizenry to better law and order and security services, andcreating greater checks and balances to putan end to the often reported cases of policeharassment of the poor and less influential people. These efforts to improve thefunctioning of the judiciary and the policeare, however, still at their initial stages, andwill require concerted action andcommitment by the Government in themedium term to see them through.
Box 4.1
Access to Justice Program
The ADB is supporting judicial and police reforms being carried out by the Government under its Access toJustice Program loan. The key objectives of the judicial reforms being supported are: improving policy-making for a more efficient and people-responsive judicial sector; strengthening the independence of the judiciary through effecting complete separation of the executive from the judiciary; ensuring dispensation of timely and inexpensive justice; legally empowering the poor and the vulnerable; and improving humanresource management systems in the judiciary. Under police reforms, the main objectives are to ensure anindependent and accountable police service; establishing an independent prosecution service; creating anindependent police authority; fostering better police-citizen relations; and creating greater gender andhuman rights awareness in the police system.
Governance reforms in Pakistan have been opposed by powerful pro-status quo vested inte
c. Civil Service Reforms
A number of civil service reforms have been introduced by the Government tostrengthen public sector departments andinstitutions and make them moreaccountable and responsive to the citizenry.In this regard, the issue of improving thefinancial management system in the countryhas received particular attention. Prominentactions taken by the Government to this endinclude the separation of audit and accountfunctions and the appointment of aController General of Accounts under theMinistry of Finance; the setting up of ad-hocfederal and provincial Public AccountsCommittees; the institutional strengtheningof the Central Board of Revenue; theestablishment of the NationalAccountability Bureau to check corruptionand misappropriation; and the plan to publish fiscal accounts on a quarterly basisto facilitate public access to information onthe state of Government finances. Further,as part of the reform agenda, theGovernment has committed itself to promote merit in recruitment for publicservice, and, for this purpose, the FederalPublic Service Commission has beengranted further autonomy and mandate to beable to discharge its functions without fear of political interference. Other civil servicereforms are also underway. However,notwithstanding this good start, it is clear that the commitment to, and pace of, thereforms effort would have to be sustained inthe medium term to achieve the desiredresults.Governance reforms in Pakistan have been opposed by powerful pro-status quovested interests and the severe fiscalconstraint puts additional restraints on areform agenda. However, the government'srecord of implementing reformcommitments made in 1999, in particular  providing a legal basis for devolution and police reforms, ensuring the completeseparation of judicial and executive powers,and completing on schedule the localgovernment elections, suggests readiness toconfront issues that eluded Pakistan sinceindependence.
2. Public Works Programs
The history of public works programsdates back to 1953 when the first such program was launched under the name of Village AID (Agricultural and IndustrialDevelopment). Village AID was an incomegeneration initiative and was started toutilize surplus labor in rural areas toincrease agricultural production as well asvillage based industrial production. The program also included funding for schools,health centers and water supply andsanitation facilities. As governments keepchanging, successive rural development programs were launched with essentiallysimilar objectives. These have taken variousnames such as the Rural Works Program,Peoples' Works Program, Integrated RuralDevelopment Program, Five Point Programand the Tameer-e-Watan Program. In thisseries of programs, the present Governmentmost recently launched the KhushhalPakistan Program (KPP), that is describedin more detail in the following paragraph.The KPP is an integrated small publicworks program. The program was initiallylaunched for a period of two years (Jan2000-Dec 2001), with a budget of Rs. 20 billion, but was extended till the end of FY2002. The program finances publicworks whose cost ranges from Rs 0.05million to Rs 5 million per scheme in ruralareas and Rs 0.05 million to Rs 8 million per scheme in urban areas. It targetsemployment creation through theconstruction of essential local infrastructurein rural areas and low-income urban areas.It is implemented through a three-tier government structure in collaboration withlocal authorities and communities. The program attempts to involve local people inthe identification, management andimplementation of these small projects andinculcate a spirit of ownership among the

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