Review of Government Welfare Programs
Pakistan is a developing country with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) worth 263.69 billion US dollars, according to official data from the World Bank. The GDP value of Pakistan represents 0.23 percent of the world’s economy. The Per Capita Income of Pakistan is 1465.89 US dollars. In 2020, the Unemployment rate in Pakistan was at approximately 4.45 percent, a slight increase from 4.65 percent the previous year. Pakistan’s Economic growth rate (2021) is 3.96% which slightly increased from 3.94% of previous year after adjusting inflation. The annual Inflation rate accelerated to 12.3% in December 2021 from 11.5% in November 2021, which was highest recorded value since Feb 2020. The rising inflation or change in any economic variable directly effect almost all the countries due to their interdependence and connectivity. Countries like Pakistan whose economy extremely dependent over imports largely impacted by inflation and tends to rise the prices of basic edible commodities, petroleum products, energy units etc to bear this burden.
Pakistan has been one of the countries worst affected by COVID-19, with the economic disruption caused by the pandemic intensify an already existing crisis. While The World Bank has projected Pakistan’s poverty rate to ease from 4.8pc to 4.4pc in FY 2021-22 and 4pc in the next FY (2022-23).Because in such circumstances gov’t always praises to turn over a new leaf by improving states economy. While the government has implemented some mitigation measures, they are somehow inadequate to counter the impact of the pandemic.
On November 3, 2021 government of Pakistan announced the major relief program “Ehsaas Rashan Program” from which 2 crore families will get benefit which were selected under Ehsaas survey, this include 13 crore people meant more than half population of a country. Per month Rs. 1000 concession will be allotted to each family. According to government 9.6 million families and 10000 grocery stores had already been registered by this program.
Talking about Ehsaas Panahgah Program 22 panahgah has been built nationwide so far, providing people with facility of one bed, breakfast, meals, other essentials, hygiene and living standards. People work in different hour shift can get the facility to aquire 3 times meal a day. Present government giving heeds over their best quality standards, training of its staff and dignity of people. Government one more ongoing project is Ehsaas Langarkhana now got extension of Ehsaas koi bhooka Na Soye under which food trucks are serving free quality cooked food at various points in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, including hospitals, bus stations and public places with utmost dignity. As per estimates, each food truck will feed two meals to around 2,000 people daily and will target those who cannot reach Panahgahs for food.
To support underprivileged sections of society, PM has established the Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme. The goal is to assist 12 million families financially. This program has been working hard to deliver Rs. 12000 to eligible, underprivileged Pakistani couples and families. Between 1 Crore and 2 Lac families. The World Bank has named Pakistan’s government’s Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme as one of the top four social protection measures in the world.
Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the country’s mega interest-free loan program worth Rs 407 billion, saying the step would contribute towards making low-income groups financially self-reliant under the Kamyab Jawan Pakistan Programme. The prime minister said 4.5 million families would benefit from the interest-free loans to start small businesses, construction of homes, farming, and learn technical education.
Sehat Card scheme will enable people residing in far-flung localities to avail quality health facility. 22 million families had been registered across Punjab under the Naya Pakistan National Health Card (NPNHC) programme which had been started with an estimated cost of Rs400 billion. So far around 64,000 hospital beds had been enlisted for the schemes in 593 hospitals. It is one of its kind social welfare programme in the world.
Although we much appreciate these steps especially in those days in which one common man unable to fulfill his needs for basic necessities. Data released by PBS showed that there was a sharp increase in the prices of basic food items, it gives valuable relief to public, until the global commodity, petroleum and power supplies prices head back to normalcy, which according to government took almost 5-6 months.
Sometimes whenever we take into account the future consequences we came through the fact that besides superiority of these programs it will not solve our problems permanently.
If we consider it farsightedly more financial support means stronger the base of inflation. On one side as government spending increases, demand increases which in turn increases inflation. We can’t deny this reality that every time government announced to give relief to public in harsh days, at the end it recovered them by increased taxes and taking more loans which ultimately results to increase inflation.
We know that public spending decreases private investment which is key ingredient of growing economy. Less investment means fewer businesses, fewer job opportunities and less innovations. The question arose whether government planned these policies just for short term impact or long term fight with future calamity? The question is due to political differences can these policies able to sustain after present government era as many families started over-reliant their daily bread over them?
These programs are for most vulnerable families, who live on the verge of poverty. Than what about those who are middle classed and live hand to mouth? This inflation impacted their lives too as there is no increment to their income. About 35% population of Pakistan is middle class. Their expenditures increases time to time while their income remains constant. To appealed to industrialist and businessmen to took special care of labour community will hardly conducive.
The writer is a student of Hailey College of Banking and Finance, University of the Punjab, Lahore.