Prof. Ashan Iqbal, the Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Reforms of Pakistan, just wrapped up a three day visit to Sri Lanka, where the 6th South Asia Economic Summit took place. Prof. Iqbal not only attended the Summit, but was the keynote speaker for its inaugural session and focused his introduction to the influential crowd on the still ever-present problem of poverty in South Asia.
The fact that progress is being made on the United Nations’ first Millennium Development Goal, the goal to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide, was noted by Prof. Iqbal, but is apparently little solace to the Federal Minister, as he states the progress to date has been far too slow. Indeed, part of his speech was dedicated to reminding those present that there is still much work to be done.
Returning home, Prof. Iqbal held a meeting to form an open forum to measure the poverty rate in Pakistan, a move that would accommodate more accurate analyses of currently inaccurate data points. The purpose of the meeting was to standardize data on poverty so that it could be used by policy makers for poverty reduction and national development. Not only will the standardization of the data in question organize current data sets, it will also combat the manipulation of data for political gain by corrupt officials and officers.
Transparency in the collection and storage of data on poverty is crucial to safeguard the public interest from both public and private manipulation. Especially in less developed nations, where inadequate funds go to this kind of research, standardization of data goes far to ensure national recognition of poverty rates, which is the first step in pursuing effective policy on poverty reduction. Prof. Iqbal’s open forum is, perhaps, just the thing rectify the issue of poverty in Pakistan.
– Herman Watson