Lebanon Businessnews News

Ending extreme poverty
requires $100 million
Public social safety nets are limited

and account for 1.04 percent of the GDP

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Government spending on social safety nets accounted for only 1.04 percent of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in 2013, according to the World Bank report, Social Safety Nets 2015, published this month.

Safety nets typically cover social assistance through private money transfers to households, healthcare insurance, and labor market programs such as pension schemes.
“If this share of Government spending on social safety nets were higher, the country could limit extreme poverty”, said Haneen Sayed, Program Leader for Human Development, Poverty, Jobs and Gender at the World Bank-Lebanon.

According to Sayed, around $100 million per year is needed to put an end to extreme poverty, which is defined as daily earnings of below the international poverty line of $1.25, set by the World Bank.

The calculation of the social safety nets as a percentage of the GDP for the country has been set based on cash transfer subsidies or remittances and free fees to support access to education during 2013, according to the World Bank.

“Public sector support for social safety nets is still weak, although the Government has invested in healthcare services especially on improving the national insurance,” said Sayed. “Social safety nets provided to the poor are taking place through private assistance, NGOs, or money transfers mainly remittances to households,” she said.

The World Bank said the Government is providing social protection through social insurance and pension schemes, as well as healthcare and tuition assistance. “These programs reach only a small share of the population and are not considered to adequately address the needs of the poor,” said Sayed.

The Government has developed the Social Sector Strategy in 2011 through the Ministry of Social Affairs to fight extreme poverty. Some policies have been implemented, including its National Poverty Targeting Program (NPTP) in cooperation with the World Bank.

Around 370,000 poor people are covered under this program, according to Sayed. “It’s a positive step toward reducing severe poverty,” she said. The NPTP’s budget has been set at $22 million.
Reported by Leila Rahbani
Date Posted: Jul 16, 2015
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