ISLAMABAD  - Despite difficulties, the government has been able to take several measures to mitigate inequality and help alleviate poverty in the country, Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh said on Tuesday.The minister was speaking at a day-long seminar on “Poverty and Inequality: Challenges and Policy Choices Facing Pakistan” that was organized by the World Bank (WB).Hafeez Shaikh said that the government has made the agriculture policies more aligned to the international practices that would help bring better distributions in incomes and provide a remedy of the situation. Secondly, he added, the government considerably enhanced the expenditure on the social safety nets that would help the poorest of the poor of the country.He said that with the help of much better technology, the focus of these social safety nets could be better targeted to reach the deserving people.The finance minister said that new formula of sharing resources between the federation and the provinces was also a step towards bringing about equality and reduce poverty. He said that the share of the provinces from the divisible pool has been increased from 46 percent to near about 60 percent that would help development growth.In addition, the minister said that deliberate efforts have been made in development programmes to ensure balanced regional development with special focus on the backward areas including FATA, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Balochistan.He said that additional specific resources were provided to these regions to bring them at par with the other parts of the country. The finance minister said that the country had witnessed three spurts of growth in 60s, 80s and 2000 but these were short-lived and were not linked to institutional change.Speaking on the occasion, Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Farzana Raja said that government was giving top priority to reducing poverty in the country.She said that it was not terrorism but poverty and inequality that were threat to world development growth.She said that growth without equality would enhance gap between havs and have-nots adding poverty cannot be alleviated without removing inequalities.She said that there was need to move from general subsidies to targeted subsidies to alleviate poverty from the country. Raja said that the BISP has conducted poverty survey all across the country and identified as many as 180 vulnerable people. The survey could help reach out the people immediately in case of any natural calamity, she added.She said that the BISP programme was multi-dimensional and offered different local and international organization access to its data to make their strategies and policies. In his detailed presentation, Francois Bourguignon, Director Paris School of Economics and Professor of Economics, highlighted the inequality dimension of globalized development, growth and inequality over the last 20 years. He said that inequality slows down poverty reduction for given growth and is bad for growth beyond some level. He said preventing inequality to grow beyond some limit is an important objective and this could be achieved through correct inequality increasing market distortions, redistribution through the accumulation of productive assets (education, healthcare, access to credit, infrastructure) among the poor rather than current income.Meanwhile, representative of BISP gave a detailed presentation about the safety net while the representatives from ministry of finance and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics also gave presentations on Zakat, Bait-ul- Mall and Pakistan Social Living Standards respectively.