The residents of Pakistan’s richest province of Punjab collectively donate over Rs 70 billion (113 billion Pakistani rupees) on average to charity annually, a study has found. A report in English news website Propakistani reported the study findings which were presented by a former Pakistani bureaucrat at the Lahore Press Club on Saturday.

Mueen Afzal, a former Secretary at Pakistan’s Ministry of Finance, noted in the study that nearly 39.3 billion Pakistani rupees out of the total sum were given out as charity, or zakat. Zakat is treated as a religious obligation in Islam, with the Quran reportedly ranking the act of alms giving the most important second only to praying.

It was further reported that 23.1 billion Pakistani rupees worth of gifts were also distributed, while 18.4 billion Pakistani rupees were handed out in other forms of donations. The comprehensive study was carried out by Pakistan Center for Philanthropy (PCP), as per the news report.

The lion’s share of these donations went to individuals, while madrasas and mosques received most of the remaining pie. Punjab has also been quite generous to the beggars and domestic helpers, a per the Propakistan report.

Former finance secretary Afzal, however, said that there was a scope for improvement in the way the donations could be channeled so as to be more efficient in tackling poverty and help the underprivileged. The PCP-sponsored study also expressed hope that Punjab could take a lead in combating social and economic problems plaguing the region and Pakistan.

According to Pakistan’s planning ministry, nearly 40 percent of the population of the South Asian country lived in acute poverty in 2016. Poverty levels across the country vary, with the strategic province of Balochistan being the most poor among all the provinces.