Remember the poorest of the poor nation

Wednesday, 2 November 2022 03:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Every three years, the Department of Census Statistics (DCS) uses the Household Income and Expenditure Survey to assess income poverty. 

Using a widely accepted methodology known as the “Cost of Basic Need Approach,” DCS calculates the Official Poverty Line (OPL) for each month in the nation. According to the OPL, the DCS publishes official poverty statistics that show the number of people living in poverty, the percentage of people who are below the OPL (Poverty Headcount Index), the depth and severity of poverty, the poverty shortfall, and how poverty is distributed across sectors, provinces, and districts. Despite the fact that DCS administers this survey every three years, it is not being done this year.

As a result, there is no official information available to comprehend the country›s poor position. The World Bank contends that poverty has not decreased from its pre-crisis levels despite the economic recovery that occurred in 2021. 

According to their calculations, the continued financial crisis may cause poverty to rise to 25.6% in 2022, which would mean that over 2.5 million people would become poor between 2021 and 2022, putting poverty back to 2009 levels.

Recent attention has been paid to direct cash transfers to low-income households in the interim budget proposed by the Minister of finance. These include giving almost 3.2 million people who are impacted by the current economic circumstances urgent aid. 

For the nearly 1.7 million Samurdhi-receiving families, the monthly Samurdhi stipend has been enhanced to a sum ranging from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 7,500. Aside from that, 726,000 families who were on the waiting list for Samurdhi benefits also received temporary support of Rs. 5,000 per month.

The amount of the allowance given to the elderly, the disabled, and kidney patients was revised upwards to a range of Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 7,500. 

People on the waiting lists will be given temporary assistance in the amount of Rs. 5,000 in order to receive this help. This shows that social safety programs are working, but they must remain focused on the needs of low-income families. This type of little cash distribution is about 9% of their minimal expenditure requirement when current inflation is taken into account, therefore, drastically falling short of meeting the most vulnerable minimum needs.

The situation for the nation truly is dire. However, it is amplified in less urban areas, which relied on local group support. The effects on poorer households of rising food prices, job losses, a shortage of fertiliser, and a decline in remittances have been disproportionately larger as they historically do have larger families with more dependents than households in industrial zones. 

The issue has gotten worse as a result of the recent tax structure modifications – with higher direct and indirect taxes eating into the disposable incomes of these groups. It is clear that all marginalised groups endure severe hardships. For instance, the issue directly affects over three million fisheries households, over one million plantation sector families, and about 300,000 people who work to earn a daily wage. 

Slums are home to about 20% of the population as a percentage of the urban population that face other obstacles while paying a premium price for urban spaces. This group may eventually resort to violence and turn to unethical or illegal means of subsisting. This can be seen in the growing numbers of sex workers, as an unfortunate result. 

The ongoing policies have continued to be hampered by the instability in the nation. Improvements in governance and the eradication of corruption are two crucial initiatives that currently receive little attention. As a result, it can be expected that things will continue to become worse without soon reaching a turning point.