Welfare & Production: A Sequential Approach
One important lesson which needs to be brought home to the decision-makers in the country is that the highest priority must be given to the twin objectives of improving the living standards of the mass of lowest income households and that the process of their development must be self-sustaining. In other words, the approach towards attaining “desirable balance” implies simultaneous action to achieve the two objectives of welfare and production for the lowest-income households. This calls for a population strategy to be so designed and implemented as to provide the requisite environment for increasing productivity and enhancing social welfare simultaneously. A prerequisite for making the development process self-sustaining would be to utilise the available resources first for increasing productivity. Experience has made it clear that without a major thrust towards increasing productivity of the target group, efforts on enhancing their welfare whether by extending primary health or primary education facilities or by augmenting the nutrition would hardly bear fruit. A strategy must be designed very carefully with a clear-cut “sequential approach” spelling out priorities succinctly together with the timeframe for implementation.
Total failure of public policy to achieve a breakthrough is attributed to two basic reasons: first, failure to decentralise decision-making and the lack of appropriate institutional setup at the grassroots level; second, politicisation of the existing institutions whether it were the local councils or the zakat committees. Besides, local rivalries based on feudal, ethnic or sectarian differences overriding all considerations or concern about poverty alleviation or productivity enhancement add fuel to fire, so to say.
There is consensus among experts that a prerequisite for effective implementation of a strategy aimed at improving the lot of the small farmer and the rural poor in extreme poverty would be the buildup of institutions which are purely indigenous and not those imposed from above to meet the cultural obligations genuinely. The ideal setup suited to meet the above conditions in our cultural environment which will certainly have a mass appeal is a clean organisation like the village zakat committee minus its shortcomings.
Source: Poverty Alleviation in Pakistan: Present Scenario and Future Strategy, Mohibul Haq Sahibzada. Republished with permission.
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