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Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday blamed the previous governments for poverty in Pakistan saying the misplaced priorities of those in power in the past were being corrected by his government to "weed out poverty from the entire country."

"In the past, the distribution of funds was directly linked to influence of the individuals. Major chunk of Punjab's entire development budget is spent on a handful of the constituencies of influential people. More than half of the Punjab's development budget was spent on the Lahore alone," he said, addressing the launching ceremony of Data4Pakistan Portal.

"This is the reason the gap between the rich and the poor widened, leading to an alarming rise in poverty in Pakistan," he said. "But the wrongs done by the rulers in the past are being righted now. And our government is here for this purpose, to serve the people and bring a positive turnaround in their lives," the PM added.

Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar said Data4Pakistan was the first initiative of its kind in the country that had poverty estimates for every district in Pakistan, along with over 120 development and policy indicators. She said the portal currently had six rounds of district poverty and development data, covering the period 2004-2018.

"This portal will be a very valuable resource for federal, provincial and district-level policymakers, for decision making," Dr Nishtar said. "Part of Ehsaas strategy, the Data4Pakistan Portal has been developed in collaboration with the World Bank. This portal will be a very valuable resource for federal, provincial and district-level policymakers, for decision making," she added.

According to a brief issued by the federal government regarding Data4Pakistan Portal, the interactive maps allow the user to visualize and compare districts on poverty and two additional indicators.

"The innovative portal uses data produced by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), as part of its Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Surveys (PSLM) as well as the Multiple Indicators Cluster Surveys (MICS) produced by the provincial Bureaus of Statistics.

The indicators currently available in the portal include a range of demographic, health, education and employment statistics as well as access to key services such as water, sanitation, electricity and gas.

It also provides a number of gender parity indices at the district level. Ehsaas is about the creation of a welfare state by countering elite capture and leveraging 21st century tools-such as using data and technology to create precision safety nets and promoting social welfare and poverty alleviation solutions. "The opening of "data4Pakistan portal" is another important step of the government to foster evidence-based decision making," the brief reads.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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