Eradication of Poverty

Statement by Dr. Asad M. Khan, Minister, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations on Agenda Item 53(a): Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017) (New York October 22, 2008)

Madam Chair,

At the outset, we wish to align with the statement made by the representative of Antigua and Barbuda, on behalf of Group of 77 and China.

  1. We thank the Secretary General for his comprehensive and useful reports under this agenda item.
  2. The most recent poverty estimates released by the World Bank reveal that poverty is more widespread across the developing world than previously thought and currently stood at 1.4 billion people living in absolute poverty worldwide.
  3. The Secretary Generalís report also note that the number of people living in extreme poverty in many countries continue to increase, with women and children constituting the majority.

Madam Chair,

  1. Recently, here at the UN, in a briefing on the IMF- World Bank meetings, we also heard that the most recent estimates indicate that another 100 million will be pushed below the poverty line on account of the multiple global crises of finance, food and fuel.
  2. Clearly, the development emergency that the world confronts today jeopardizes the economic growth and development gains made by the developing countries over the last decade.

Madam Chair,

  1. Unfortunate though it may be, the rationale, for having another decade for eradication of poverty is clear and present. In fact eradication of hunger and poverty remains one of the most formidable challenges of our time. Tackling it urgently through a long term sustained response has only become ever more imperative.
  2. The Second Decade should, therefore, not just be used for sensitizing and advocacy on poverty eradication issues but should also be developed as a framework for global action and a vehicle to monitor the achievement of MDG 1 and global support for national actions to that end.
  3. In this regard, we also concur with the Secretary Generalís suggestion that a pragmatic plan of action in support of the Second Decade would be necessary to ensure its successful implementation, which should focus on the complementarities of efforts to the existing national poverty eradication strategies and programmes including the operational work of United Nations in the area of poverty eradication.

Madam Chair,

  1. As net food and energy importing country, Pakistan is one of the worst affected countries by the present crises. A recent study indicate that current crises may push another 17 million in Pakistan into the poverty trap. In fact South Asia where Pakistan resides is home to half of the 1.4 billion people living in absolute poverty worldwide.
  2. A peculiar challenge for developing countries like Pakistan is that a large portion of the population lives just above or below the official poverty line. This implies that families are quite vulnerable to falling into poverty with a slight run of bad luck. A drought or a bad agricultural year, an illness of a breadwinner, rise in prices of basic commodities not compensated by rise in income, all these can cause families to fall into poverty.
  3. Our challenge, therefore, is not only to help those below the poverty line to come out of it but also to save those above the poverty line from falling into the poverty trap.

Madam Chair,

  1. Pakistanís poverty reduction strategy redresses distribution of income and consumption as well as opportunities and inequalities in accessing education, health and other necessities of life. In our Medium Term Development Framework for 2005-10, we have allocated up to 4.0% of GDP for education and about 1% for health services, besides enhancing capacity for delivery of basic services to the poor and vulnerable. Our Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Law mandate a minimum allocation for pro-poor budgetary outlays.
  2. Until recently, the overall progress in MDG indicators showed that out of 34 indicators adopted, Pakistan was ahead in 7, on track on 16 and was lagging in 11. Through our Poverty Reduction Strategy we succeeded in lifting approximately 13 million people out of poverty. However, Pakistan now faces a serious challenge in retaining this positive trajectory due to global crises.
  3. The Government has taken several special measures to assist the poor and vulnerable by making the growth process inclusive, allocating larger resources for social sectors, providing subsidies for enhancing the incomes of the low income groups.
  4. A major program of cash transfer namely Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) with an allocation of 34 billion for 2008-09 has been launched. It will provide cash assistance of Rs.1.000/- per month to 3.4 million poor households. These measures will help in reducing poverty and to achieve MDG target of reducing poverty.

Madam Chair,

  1. At the global level, the effective and full implementation of the commitments towards the achievement of internationally agreed development goals including Millennium Development Goals remains the key to the eradication of poverty. To this end, my delegation would propose the following:
    • First, intensify efforts to promote investments in infrastructure development particularly Foreign Direct Investment in agriculture infrastructure for the enhancement of agricultural productivity in the developing countries;
    • Second, develop a comprehensive mechanism with benchmarks and indicators to monitor the implementation of internationally Agreed Development Goals under the UN auspices.
    • Third, identify new sources of assistance, in addition to ODA, to provide enhanced fiscal space channeled as budgetary support to developing countries. We also fully concur with Secretary Generalís observation that without adequate and predictable financial assistance from the international community, poverty related targets would not be achieved by countries that experience serious difficulties in reducing poverty.
    • Fourth, rectify market mechanisms that have generated hikes in food and oil prices.
  2. It is no small task to eliminate hunger and poverty. Only through collective effort and commensurate political will the international community can avoid the need for a third decade for eradication of poverty.

I thank you Madam Chair.