NBS Report on Poverty, Inequality leaves much to be investigated -Prof. Uwaleke

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Professor Uche Uwaleke

Professor of Finance and Capital Markets at the Nasarawa State University, Uche Uwaleke has said that the recently report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) leaves much to be investigated.

NBS in its 2019 report on Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria released on Monday, indicated that four (4) out of every ten (10) Nigerians are poor. In the report, 40.1 percent of Nigeria’s total population was classified as poor.

However, Prof. Uwaleke argued that
“given the country’s average growth rate in the last ten years vis-a-vis population growth rate, it stands to reason that more people may have dropped below the poverty line than this survey result suggests.

“By the same token, income inequality may have widened in the light of the jobless nature of GDP growth rates even in periods of high crude oil prices.

“So, to say that in today’s Nigeria, only 4 out of 10 persons are poor -by whatever yardstick- and that economic inequality is low as suggested by the low Gini index leaves much to be investigated,” he said.

The former Commissioner for Finance, Imo State, however, advised that “future surveys should consider increasing the sample size of households from the current 22,110 to make it more representative in a country of nearly 200 million people.

“The government is advised to see what use it can make of these survey results while seizing the opportunity of COVID’19 to pursue pro-poor policies.

“Given the critical place of accurate data in this regard, adequate funds should be made available to National Bureau of Statistics to be able to deliver on its mandate,” he said.

Prof. Uwaleke, nevertheless, commended the NBS for successfully conducting the Living standards Survey nearly 10 years after the last one was done, adding that the current survey witnessed a clear departure from the previous exercises especially in the area of methodology.

“On the recently released national poverty and inequality numbers for Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics deserves commendation for successfully conducting the Living standards Survey nearly 10 years after the last one was done.

“This particular survey, conducted with support from the World Bank, witnessed a clear departure from the previous exercises especially in the area of methodology.

“Of note is the use of consumption expenditure approach rather than income measure which the NBS justified as being in line with best practice.

“If the new National poverty line is N137,430 or $361 per person per annum which translates to $ 0.98 per day and captures about 40% of the total population, it tells of considerable improvement over the years.

“The same conclusion can be drawn regarding the Gini index, a measure of economic inequality, which has seemingly improved from over 50 to 35,” he said.

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