…And sounds over optimistic

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Despite difficulties, the government has been able to take several measures to mitigate inequality and help alleviate poverty in the country, Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said on Tuesday. The minister was speaking at a day long seminar on “Poverty and Inequality: Challenges and Policy Choices Facing Pakistan” that was organized by the World Bank (WB). Hafeez Shaikh said that the government has made the agriculture policies more aligned to the international practices that would help bring better distributions in incomes and provide a remedy of the situation. Secondly, he added the government considerably enhanced the expenditure on the social safety nets that would help the poorest of the poor of the country. He said that with the help of much better technology, the focus of these social safety nets could be better targeted to reach the deserving people. The finance minister said that new formula of sharing resources between the federation and the provinces was also a step towards bringing about equality and reduces poverty. He said that the share of the provinces from the divisible pool has been increased from 46 percent to near about 60 percent that would help development growth. In addition, the minister said that deliberate efforts have been made in development programmes to ensure balanced regional development with special focus on the backward areas including FATA, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Balochistan. He said that additional specific resources were provided to these regions to bring them at par with the other parts of the country.