UNDP Report 2000 Launched: Minister Stresses Holistic Approach Towards Global Poverty

Business Recorder
May 17, 2000

Omar Asghar Khan, Minister for local government and rural development, has said the demonstrations in Washington (at the IMF-World Bank meeting) and Seattle (at the time of WTO meeting) should open the eyes of the West to adopt a holistic approach on the issues of global poverty and development. He was speaking on the launching of UNDP Poverty Report 2000, at the UN information centre here on Tuesday.

The report has pointed out that a global strategy against poverty needs more resources, sharper focus and stronger commitment. Despite commitments, made at the Social Summit 95, the donors are cutting back on aid.

Omar Asghar Khan said the protectionist policies were hurting the developing countries. He said if trade barriers were removed, there would be no need for transfer of loans to poor countries. Aid, he said, was becoming a means of earning interest on the hard-earned income of the developing countries.

According to one estimate, one-fifth of the rich own 87 percent resources of the world. UNDP representative in Pakistan, Onder Yucer, said a main finding of the report was that for overcoming the challenge of poverty, good economic policies and growth were not enough. It has to be buttressed with effective governance institutions. According to him, effective anti-corruption machinery, democratisation, devolution and empowerment of the poor are central for the success of poverty reduction. In short, poverty is people's powerlessness.

Omar Asghar Khan said poverty reduction is an important element of the new government's growth strategy. So far the elite dominated the political and economic scene. The government was aiming at non-elite and pro-poor approach to reduce poverty. He added about $ 1 billion goes out of the country every year owing to the corrupt practices of the politicians, and officials. The National Accountability Bureau is trying to nab them and bring back the money. The process, he added, has started.

He stated the farm workers would be allowed to form their associations like other trade unions to protect their rights as the country embarks on corporatisation of agriculture. The minister added that farmers, labourers, minorities, women and disadvantaged classes would be brought on the mainstream. He said citizens community boards will be formed throughout the country after the formation of district governments next year. These boards will look after hospitals, schools, water and sanitation schemes for the uplift of their areas.

Omar said the government would make efforts to utilise internal resources without severing links with international financial system to meet the development needs. He said billions of dollars have gone into mega projects, but we have not been able to address structural constraints that are causing poverty in our country. He said de-centralisation is an important part of the poverty reduction agenda of the government.

In reply to a question, he said the government has released Rs 3 billion as the first tranche to reduce poverty. He said Bait-ul-Maal fund is being used to overcome child labour and it will be used for the food support programme to be launched from the forthcoming July.

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