At a time when multiple variants of COVID-19 are taking a heavy toll on life, good governance has become central to crisis management and COVID-19 control. There are no two ways about the fact that good governance is essential to combating poverty.
Since governance is all about political control, policy formation, and its implementation, and it signifies the manner in which citizens and governments relate to each other.
Only an efficient, more responsive, and transparent governance can tackle the herculean task of poverty alleviation. In times of crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic and its economic and social repercussions; public governance matters more than ever.
It is pertinent to mention that governance has played a crucial role with immediate responses and preventive measures to avoid the potential spread of COVID-19 and in moving towards a new normal. The countries with the kind of good governance have been able to defeat the COVID-19 to the maximum possible extent and those with poor governance are still confronted with high infection rates and poor health management.
It won’t be wrong to say that COVID-19 has become a new scale in assessing the levels of governance in countries as it equally affects almost every field of life.
If Oxford’s definition of good governance is to believe then good governance is the effective and responsible management of an organization, a country, etc. which includes considering society’s needs in the decisions it makes.
The key essentials of good governance are that it is participatory, consensus-oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable, and follows the rule of law. It ensures the control of social evils like human rights violations, corruption, crime rate, and respect for diversity.
Various arguments support the fact that good governance is central to poverty alleviation. Firstly, good governance forms public-oriented policies. Its policy formation and policy design would be in the interest of people so as to solve the grievances of the people. For instance, investing in the skill development of the people minimizes the number of unemployed youth and hence alleviates poverty.
Secondly, good governance will ensure heavy investments in human capital such as the health and education sector thereby reducing the education and health-related poverty of its people.
Many countries of Asia-Pacific origin invest the maximum in their human capital such as health and education of citizens. Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand to name a few. This kind of investment ensures maximum enrolment in educational institutions, generation of high-skilled labor, best delivery of health, and other services of prime importance.
The abovementioned picture is showing how a company reaps the benefits of investing in human capital. The same is the case for a country or a nation. An increase in the variety of services, and enhancement of production capacity, skill development, the emergence and investment in new ideas; all are directly related to alleviating poverty and inferiority complex from a nation.
Former British senior civil servant, Edmund Nigel Ramsay, very rightly praised the initiative of the Ehsas Program by the incumbent government as one of the most comprehensive welfare programs ever undertaken by a national government, with an underlying ambition to ensure social safety.
The Pakistan government’s Ehsas Program more or less comprises three key components: providing the poor or unemployed with interest-free loans, skill development of the poor, and transferring the small assets to the people such as livestock, sewing machines, and other types of equipment related to agriculture. Ehsaas emergency cash relief was later added a new leaflet to extend timely financial support towards COVID-19 hit families.
China has so far set a precedent for the developing and under-developed nations of the world by its landmark progress in achieving poverty alleviation. In 1990 there were more than 750 million people in China living below the international poverty line – about two-thirds of the population. By 2016 the number of people living below the poverty line had fallen to 7.2 million people (0.5% of the population).
China has reduced rural poverty by relocating the rural population to new and more developed housing areas, by employing its people in various job cultures. China has also raised the amount of basic pension in rural areas and subsidies for basic medical insurance for poor seniors to further reduce poverty in rural areas.
If one closely studies China’s national healthcare policy then it would be evident that the Chinese Government grants more healthcare and medical subsidies to its rural population than that of the urban population.
However, the success story of the Chinese poor isn’t by the dint of government policies alone, Chinese people, by working extremely hard, lifted themselves out of poverty as well.
Essentially, it is obvious to say that poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.