Representatives of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) for Asian region attending the 3rd Asian Regional Conference in Colombo yesterday (13) discussed the eradication of poverty in the region and the welfare of mothers and children.
Addressing the session, Speaker of the Pakistani Parliament Dr. Fehimida Mirza who chaired the day's session on poverty alleviation pointed out that South Asia has maximum people living below the poverty line and all politicians of the region should act committed to eradicate poverty from their relevant nations.
Presenting the plenary session on "Poverty Alleviation", Speaker of India's Lok Sabha Srimathi Meera Kumar said poverty is the biggest developmental challenge that the world is facing today and it is not merely numerical. It is a chronic deprivation of all basic human needs, she noted.
Addressing the convention Sri Lanka's Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa said the representatives of the convention have been able to prepare a proper programme to find solutions for many problems pertaining to the region. Accordingly, the convention has focused special attention on the topics of climate changes and natural disasters, eradication of poverty and the maternal and child welfare.
Sri Lankan parliamentarian A.H.M. Azwar speaking at the occasion noted that eradication of poverty would pave the way to safeguard peace, democracy, and good governance.
He said under the guidance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa Sri Lanka has taken effective measures to gain to empower the poor.
The Indian Speaker emphasized that poverty varies from country to country and also within the country, from region to region.
Therefore, the policies, schemes and the programmes make for poverty alleviation cannot be uniform and must suit the local needs and requirements.
Before addressing the issue, the roadblocks to poverty alleviation must be recognized and eliminated one by one, Kumar noted.
Underscoring the importance of the poor having a political voice, Indian Speaker stressed that there should be equitable growth and only then it will mitigate poverty.
"Poor must be empowered politically. They must have a powerful political voice. Powerlessness of the poor in political realm can be both the cause and effect of poverty. This is something which we should as parliamentarians keep in mind," Kumar said.
The parliamentarians have a very crucial role to play, she said adding that they must work in close cooperation with their governments, with the civil society and partners of development to ensure that the policies and programmes are properly framed, resources are adequately mobilized and channelized to the benefit of the poor.
Kumar underlined the need to assist the NGOs and who are genuinely working for the poor and to combat corruption at all levels as parliamentarians.
If corruption is coming in the way of assistance which should be given to the poor, then the parliamentarians should act against it very emphatically, she said.
"We should be a kind of a bridge between the government, the private sector, and the civil society to address the issue of poverty," India's Speaker stressed.
Kumar observed the way Sri Lanka has overcome the challenges faced by them and said it is an example for others.