Baitulmal, A Tool for Poverty Alleviation, A Myth or Reality

Introduction

Pakistan is facing a high growth rate of poverty, putting pressure on the low-income group of the country, and the majority of the masses is living below the poverty line. The poverty line has been stipulated at the international level. The two-dollar income of a person per day is considered the poverty line. All the persons who earn less than two dollars per day live below the poverty line. According to a UNDP report, 65.5 percent population of Pakistan earns less than two dollars per day. According to the Social Policy Development Centre (SPDC), 88 percent of Balochistan population, 51 percent of NWFP, 21 percent of Sindh, and 25 percent of Punjab’s population is prey to poverty and deprivation.  According to the report of SPDC in Sindh, rural poverty is 49 percent while the urban poverty ratio is 23 percent, in Punjab, the poverty ratio of rural areas is 30 percent while the urban areas’ poverty ratio is 26 percent. According to the recent report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 57 million people in Pakistan are living below the poverty line. Poverty after declining during 2000-01 to 2004-05 from 34.5% to 23.9% seems to have increased in recent years due to slow economic growth, high rate of inflation, scarcity of power, and the war on terror resulting in the diversion of public expenditure from development to security. The government of Pakistan has established a number of institutions for poverty alleviation as the Benazir Income Support Programme, Waselahaq, etc. Bait-ul-mal is such an institution that is a powerful tool for the reduction of poverty in our society.

Pakistan Bait-ul-mal

 Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (PBM), an Autonomous Body set up through the 1991 Act. PBM is significantly contributing toward poverty alleviation through its various poorest of the poor focused services and providing assistance to destitute, widow, and orphan, invalid, infirm & other needy persons, as per eligibility criteria approved by Bait-ul-Mal Board. The stated mission, vision, and objectives are as under:-

  Mission

To provide social protection to the poor marginalized segments of the society.

  Vision

To ameliorate teeming millions of the country through focus on rehabilitation. Transparency and reaching the deserving would be the hallmark of the implementation strategy.

Objectives

  • Financial assistance to the destitute, widows, orphans, invalids, infirm and other needy persons with emphasis on rehabilitation
  • Educational assistance to needy orphan and stipends for the outstanding, non-affording students for higher professional education
  • Residential accommodation and necessary facilities for the deserving
  • Free medical treatment for indigent sick people, set up free hospitals and rehabilitation centers for the poor
  • Financial aid to charitable institutions including educational & vocational setups.
  • Sponsor and promote self-employment schemes.
  • Any other purpose approved by the Board.

Funding:

The Bait-ul-Mal fund is financed from the following sources:

  • Transfer of receipts from tax levied for the purpose.
  • Grants from the Federal Government, Provincial Governments, Local Authorities, National Organizations and International Agencies. Presently, the main source of funding of PBM is the grant from the Federal Government.
  • Voluntary Donations, including Sadqat and Atiyat by Individual Societies, Bodies, Institutions or Organizations.
  • Sale of property of Bait-ul-Mal whether movable or immovable, and income from such property, investments and other assets.

Pakistan Bait-ul-mal has started following projects for poverty alleviation

1      Pakistan Sweet Home (orphanages)

Pakistan has a very rich tradition of providing care to orphans and children without parental support. Since the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, Pakistan has taken various initiatives for fulfilling its obligations. PBM Act-1991 (as amended) Clause 4 (d) speaks that the money in the Bait-ul-Mal shall be utilized to provide residential accommodation and necessary facilities to the persons specified in clause-4(a) i.e. destitute and needy widows and orphans etc. throughout the country, having accommodation of 100 Orphan Children (4-6 Years of ages) in each. In this regard, Twenty-five (25) Orphanages called “Sweet Pakistan Homes (PSHs)”, have been established, where 2500 Orphan Children have been enrolled. Pakistan Sweet Homes Rawalpindi and Islamabad are running combined at the same premises.

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