According to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Report (PRSP), an amount of Rs. 462.7 billion was spent during the first quarter of the fiscal year 2017-18 on poverty reduction programs. This amounts to an increase of a total of Rs. 44 billion or 10.4% when compared to the expenditure made during the same time of the previous fiscal year.
Findings made by the finance ministry indicate that expenditures covered several categories aimed at poverty reduction. The areas worked upon include:
- road building
- health care
- environment protection
- justice administration
- law and order
- rural development
- and subsidies
However, a significant sum of money – Rs. 354.4 billion – was spent to meet current expenditures that included salary payments among others.
30.7% of the expenditure – a total of Rs. 25.2 billion was spent on subsidies. However, the share of subsidies dedicated to pro-poor expenditures was only 5.4% of the total.
Targeted subsidies and cash distributions under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) amounted to Rs. 24 billion.
The amount of money spent on social security and welfare underwent a decrease of 18.5%, with Rs. 7.9 billion spent in the current year compared to the previous year’s Rs. 9.7 billion.
An Increase in Expenditure to Reduce Poverty
The pattern of expenditure dedicated to reducing poverty in the current year shows an upward trend when compared to the expenditure pattern of the last fiscal year:
- Expenditure on health amounted to Rs. 57.8 billion, which signifies an increase of 29.3% when compared to the previous year.
- Rs 64 billion was spent on education which is 17.2% higher when compared to the previous fiscal year.
- The amount of money spent on educational institutions also increased to Rs. 21.7 billion.
- The share of education in pro-poor expenses also underwent an increase from 34.7% when compared to the previous year’s 32.7%
- The contribution of health sector in pro-poor expenditures underwent an increase of 10.7%.
Despite an apparent increase in the amount of money dedicated to the reduction of poverty, according to social experts no significant change has been observed in the living conditions of the people.
The low impact of the expenditures made in these areas can be seen as a result of heavy spending on current expenditures such as salaries of departmental staff.
It is now being proposed that an increase in the financial resources allocated to the provinces will lead to a direct improvement of the social indicators.
- The amount spent on law and order was Rs. 82 billion, that is up 16.3% when compared to the previous year.
- Rs. 6 billion was spent on administration of justice, compared to the previous year’s Rs. 7.9 billion.
- The amount spent on agriculture, however, underwent a decrease of 6.8%.
- Similarly expenditure on agriculture and road-building, too, has decreased to 18.6% and 28.4% respectively.