The prime minister said the civilized societies were defined by the ways how they treated their poor as well as their planning to address inequality.
He said the elite capture had not been a problem of only Pakistan but all developing countries even the richer countries too.
Imran Khan said the COVID-19 had made poor people poorer as more people had gone below poverty line. However, he said the elite capture was mainly a problem of especially the developing countries.
Calling the Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity Panel report as “shocking”, the prime minister said every year, one trillion dollar leave developing countries for tax havens and seven trillion dollars were laundered out of poor countries. He said this single fact was the reason behind inequality in the world.
He said the money laundering from developing countries did not only cause poverty, but also led to devaluation of local currency owing to huge dollar outflow besides causing inflation in the country.
About the elite capture in Pakistan, the prime minister said his government was the first one to go after cartels including sugar cartels which had jacked up the commodity’s prices affecting mainly the poor class.
He said the cartels usually had their political connections and his government would strengthen the Competition Commission of Pakistan to address the cartelization.
Imran Khan said he was proud of the recognition by the UNDP report, the reduction in poverty ratio and human development growth in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province despite the fact the province had been badly hit by terror and consequent displacement of population.
He said he was also proud of transparent disbursement of cash assistance distributed among the people during the COVID pandemic regardless of any political affiliation of the beneficiaries.
The prime minister said the UNDP report would greatly help the government to fine tune its policies mainly to protect the poor.
He said his government was already working on regional disparity as data of 75 percent population had been collected and rest would be done by June. He said the database would help the government provide direct subsidy to the needy people as under the current system, both the poor and rich were benefiting some of the subsidies equally.
The Pakistan NHDR 2020 follows UNDP’s global Human Development Report (HDR) of 2020, which highlights how human development is deeply intertwined with our relationship to our planet.
Speaking on inequality in the region, Kanni Wignaraja, Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific at UNDP stated, “The challenge of inequality is endemic, both regionally and globally. While the Asia-Pacific region has witnessed the steepest rise in human development, globally, it continues to grapple with widespread multidimensional poverty, and is now vulnerable to a new set of inequalities emerging around higher education and climate resilience. And the one we have been unable to close – the shocking gender gaps in our region”.
“The report highlights that interregional inequality in Pakistan has increased. It indicates that the highest level of Human Development in Pakistan is in Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has shown the fastest rate of growth in human development, ” said Dr Hafiz Pasha, lead author of the report.
While sharing the key findings of the report, Dr Pasha highlighted that the level of child development is low in Pakistan, while within Pakistan it is relatively higher in Punjab. He further articulated that the privileges of the elite in Pakistan adds up to PKR 2, 660 billion, equivalent to 8% of the GDP.
Speaking on the release of the report, Resident Representative at UNDP Pakistan Knut Ostby stated, “This NHDR comes at an especially important time for the country. With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing millions of people into poverty, the issue of inequality has become far more urgent for the success of the country, its institutions, and its people. We hope that the recommendations contained in the report can spawn policy discussions and dialogue, and lead to actionable change at the policy level”.