Poverty line as­sess­ment method flawed: Mon­tek

The Political and Business Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

IN the wake of a ma­jor up­roar over poverty es­ti­mates, Plan­ning Comm-is­sion Deputy Chair-man Mon­tek Singh Ah­luwalia tod-ay ad­mit­ted that the method of tab­u­lat­ing the num­ber of poor is "ab­stract" and said it is be­ing re­worked.

Ah­luwalia sought to dis­tance him­self from the con­tro­ver­sial data re­leased last week ac­cord­ing to which poverty fig­ures de­clined to 21.9 per cent in 2011-12 from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05, say­ing the fig­ures were based on the as­sess­ment of an ex­pert com­mit­tee.

The cur­rent fig­ures are based on the method­ol­ogy sug­gested by a com­mit­tee headed by renow-ned econ­o­mist Suresh Ten­dulkar which fac­tors in spent on health and ed­u­ca­tion be­sides calo­rie in­take, he said.

"The Ten­dulkar (com­mit­tee method­ol­ogy) num­bers show about 22 per cent as poor (in the coun­try). I am per­fectly will­ing to agree that, that (poverty) line is a bit low," he told re­porters.

About the ques­tions raised over th­ese fig­ures, even within the Congress party, Ah­luwalia said, "Kapil (Sibal) has said that the present sys­tem is ab­stract and even we should im­prove it. Even we agree to that."

The Plan­ning Com­mis­sion deputy chief said the new method­ol­ogy be­ing worked upon will be based on the Ran­gara­jan Com­mit­tee which is ex­pected to sub­mit its re­port by mid­dle of next.

His state­ment as­sumes sig­nif­i­cance as th­ese poverty fig­ures have led to a ma­jor up­roar and slammed by all po­lit­i­cal par­ties, in­clud­ing UPA con­stituent NCP.

The Com­mis­sion used the Suresh Ten­dulkar Com­mit­tee's method­ol­ogy, which fac­tors in spend­ing on health and ed­u­ca­tion be­sides calo­rie in­take to ar­rive at a poverty line for cities and vil­lages. Ac­cord­ingly, the peo­ple whose daily con­sump­tion of goods and ser­vices ex­ceed Rs 33.33 in cities and Rs 27.20 in vil­lages are not poor.

Ah­luwalia said, "This is not the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion's (poverty) line. Poverty line is not drawn by the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.’’

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