ISLAMABAD: The annual Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) released this week says the infrastructure and social service needs of Sindh and Punjab have outpaced the provincial fiscal space currently available for new infrastructure investment.
The two largest provinces account for roughly 77 per cent of the population and 85pc of the country’s GDP.
The report says that prospects are limited for the near future development of provincial governments’ debt issuance, or for the mainstreaming of cost-reflective user charges, by provincial governments, in current and new public sector infrastructures.
The overall PRSP expenditures in terms of GDP increased to 7.95pc during fiscal year 2014-15. The PRSP development expenditures as percentage of GDP increased to 2.87pc from 2.46 percentage of GDP during the previous year. PRSP current expenditures, however, declined to 5.08pc from 5.26 percentage of GDP.
Proportional distribution of expenditures in pro-poor sectors reflected that education held the maximum share of 27.64pc in total PRSP expenditures in 2014-15. It was followed by subsidies, recording a share of 21.22pc, law and order recorded a share of 12.42pc in total expenditure. Health and agriculture sub-sectors depicted an increase in their relative shares during the period under review.
Social safety net expenditures recorded a mixed trend. The total amount disbursed under different programmes, including budgetary and non-budgetary transfers, increased by 30.15pc from Rs114,041 million in fiscal year 2013-14 to Rs148,421m in fiscal year 2014-15. The total number of beneficiaries under all these programmes observed an increase of 1.9pc during 2014-15.
The report says that access to good schools, healthcare, electricity, safe water and other critical services remains elusive for many people, often determined by socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, and geography.
Moreover, for those who have been able to move out of poverty, progress is often temporary: economic shocks, food insecurity and climate change threaten to rob them of their hard-won gains and force them back into poverty.