Eight million people are living below poverty line under PTI govt: economist

Pakistan’s renowned economist Dr Hafiz A Pasha has claimed that eight million people in the country have gone below the poverty line under the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and another 10 million could slip below the same soon.

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According to the details, Dr Pasha in an article has said that due to low economic growth and double-digit food inflation the national poverty ratio, which was 31.3% in June 2018, would sharply jump to over 40% by June 2020.

In simple terms, people living in poverty will increase from 69 million in June 2018 to 87 million by June 2020, indicating 26% increase in poverty in first two years of the PTI government.

“The situation is very alarming due to an economic growth rate that is close to the population growth rate and an exponential increase in prices of perishable food items,” reports quoted Pasha as saying.

The economist said that the government’s decision to simultaneously increase taxes, energy tariffs and devaluation of currency contributed to the increase in poverty.

He said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government’s decision to keep the rupee-dollar parity stable kept the inflation under check adding that the incumbent government is implementing probably the toughest IMF programme of Pakistan’s history aimed at overpowering fiscal and external accounts challenges.

Dr Pasha is the former finance minister of Pakistan and has also advised Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan at the time of building consensus on signing an IMF [International Monetary Fund] programme.

Meanwhile, the Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar in response to Dr Pasha’s claims has said, “We do not have latest official poverty statistics,” adding that the country was exiting a severe balance of payments crisis which had its own implications.

“The PTI government accelerated the poverty alleviation measures aimed at protecting the poor and vulnerable people from the adverse impact of macroeconomic adjustments”, said the minister.

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