–Imran says lopsided development hinders a country’s growth
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday expressed the government’s determination to alleviate poverty from the country.
Addressing the launch ceremony of Data4Pakistan Portal in the federal capital on Tuesday, he said that no country can progress if a significant portion of its population lives in poverty.
He said that a civilized society is known by the standard of living of its poor. Imran said this is the first step in finding the necessary ways and means to fight poverty. He said that this portal will help identify the areas which are in most need of funds, besides finding other vital statistics about issues being faced by the local people.
Criticising the policies of previous governments, the prime minister said that ground realities were not considered in budget allocations at that time and more than 55 per cent of Punjab budget was being spent on the development of Lahore alone while other provincial cities were ignored.
“All of Punjab’s development budget was being spent on Lahore. Lahore was developing, but the cities surrounding the metropolis were cannibalising, regressing. Poorer areas were going backwards, while a select few areas were being developed,” he said.
Highlighting the cons of this phenomenon, the premier said, “Firstly, all of the people go to that one developed city seeking employment opportunities, putting a burden on existing facilities. Further, facilities such as health and investment remain limited to a small area.”
“This initiative is crucial because it gives us an opportunity to inform the people where exactly funds are needed. Why is there a need to spend money, what is the state of education in that area, and why are our girls not enrolled in schools, all of these questions and more can be answered [through this initiative],” he added.
“The current Punjab chief minister hails from a very poor area in the province. When he started spending money in his area, in Dera Ghazi Khan, there was a lot of uproar. However, when you go over the data you will realise that more money needs to be spent in DG Khan,” he further said.
Imran also said that poverty is like a disease. “You are only able to find a cure once you have ascertained the exact cause,” he said, adding that the government will focus on the equal development of all the areas.
The prime minister said that Data4Pakistan will also help in policymaking at the higher level as well as the allocation of budget. He said that the earmarking of the budget will be on need and merit basis, without any political or other influences.
Earlier, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar said that Data4Pakistan, the first initiative of its kind in the country, provides open and public access to a spatial interactive portal that has poverty estimates for every district in Pakistan, along with over 120 development and policy indicators.
She said that the portal currently has six rounds of district poverty and development data, covering the period 2004-2018. This portal will be a very valuable resource for federal, provincial and district level policymakers for decision making, she added.