PIDE’s report on poverty

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Pakistan Institute of Development Economists (PIDE) has released a report on poverty situation in the country. The report tells about the surge in poverty ratio in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa during the past three years, whereas it depicts a declining trend in it in other provinces. The province had registered reduction in poverty ratio during 2013-15. On the contrary, it surged after 2015 due to skewed development priorities of throwing money into grandiose non-productive mega projects and other reasons beyond the control of provincial government. Hence, PIDE report states that 10 million more people have slipped below the poverty line in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Poverty has a direct linkage with unemployment. The location disadvantage, expensive raw material and above all high tariffs of energy inputs led to the closures of more than 400 industrial units, leading to mass unemployment in the private sector. It also affected the local trade and quantum of exports to Afghanistan, squeezing further the employment opportunities. The incentives provided in the industrial policy of May, 2016 could not revive the sick industrial units. Likewise, fresh investment in industrial sector of the province cannot be attracted. Agriculture sector was totally neglected in the rain fed areas of the province which had several potential sites for small dams’, each project would have cost just few million rupees to store water of flash floods during rains to meet the irrigation requirement of thousands of acres of fertile cultivable agriculture land. The spurt in agriculture activity would have generated self-employment not only in this sector but also given support to trade. Khyber Pukhtunkhwa has rich resources of exotic minerals. An ambitious mineral policy, emphasising the use of modern technology in mining, was announced with a lot of fanfare. However, no progress was made to implement it in letter and spirit to give boost to judicious mining activities but also to facilitating the growth of industries of processing mineral for value addition. The cumulative effect of skewed priorities is now reflected in increased poverty ratio.