Rising Poverty | Editorial

According to the World Bank (WB), South Asia is seeing the worst recession given the economic drawbacks of fighting a pandemic. According to the international body, Pakistan has experienced a sharp increase in its rates of poverty—a phenomenon which will continue to intensify for the coming two years at least. As such, now is the time for the government to create and incorporate larger safety nets for its citizens so that complete demise is avoided. Specific focus on how welfare can be improved and expanded to facilitate the needs of the masses is needed if we have any hopes of weathering the raging storm brought about by COVID-19.

For the Fiscal Year (FY) of 2020, the South Asia Economic Focus report estimates that the economy will grow by 0.5 percent only in comparison to a steady 4 percent growth in previous years—highlighting a serious problem for the government. The implications of this would be further deterioration of economic standing, high inflation, rapid unemployment, low wages and a serious lack of financial opportunities. Furthermore, the continual resurgence of the virus demands intermittent lockdowns which threatens business activity repeatedly. Matters are made worse because of external factors like crippling debt and stricter terms for international financing as well. With all the cards stacked against Pakistan, there is a severe need for the government to devise a plan that protects the people from a potentially devastating future.

One proposed solution is the development of the welfare system of the country to mitigate the damage done. Health services can be made cheaper so that they are more accessible, cash payments can be made to those in need to ensure their sustenance, prices of commodities can be kept in check so that they remain affordable and fulfil basic demands of survival and unemployment centres and shelters can be established for the comfort of those who have lost their jobs. The government is already engaged in all of these measures, but expanding their scope to take on a larger segment of the population should be the next step. Through employing such strategies, Pakistan can make leaps towards becoming a welfare state as well.

Source: https://nation.com.pk/10-Oct-2020/rising-poverty

October 10, 2020

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