A concern shown by Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has given hope to the masses that something will be done to check the soaring inflation in the country. Soon after assuming power, the newly-elected prime minister announced certain measures for providing a much-needed relief to the masses but at the same time, he has as usual reminded the general public about the bleak economic situation and put the blame on the previous government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. The quick measures taken on the first day after assuming the office by Shehbaz Sharif include a six-day working schedule for all government offices, an increase of 10 percent for those government officials who draw a salary up to one lakh rupees and fixing of minimum wage at Rs 25,000 per month. Besides, he has announced strict monitoring of prices of daily use items in Ramadan bazaars. The reconstitution of the National Economic Council (NEC) comprising independent financial experts to deal with the financial crisis is also on the cards. These are short-term measures while the country needs a consistent policy for the reversal of inflation that has made the life of a common man miserable. Finding a solution to the ever-increasing inflation and its implementation is the domain of the government but due to the political situation in the country, any elected government hardly completes its term. This political turmoil fails government strategies and ultimately, the masses bear the brunt of this political adventurism. Arguably, the situation is going from bad to worse in almost all sectors. The inflation rate is going up due to the persistent devaluation of the rupee while our economy is under severe pressure from loans. The country is witnessing one of the worst deficits of Rs 5600 billion for the first time in its history. After putting the blame on this terrible economic situation, the new coalition government led by Shehbaz Sharif is now searching for ways and means to resolve the financial crisis.
The origin of the crisis is massive loans taken by the previous governments, which continue to haunt every new government. It has become a norm that after exhausting all options, every new government finds no other means except reverting to the IMF programmes for its survival. This proves a temporary solution but tough conditions of such programmes leave long-term negative effects on the national economy. The best way for every new government should be the focus on utilizing the country’s own resources, which are available in abundance. Besides, the government needs to control its import bill, which swells due to the purchase of costly items, which only the rich class can afford. Our reliance on imported petroleum products is also an added burden. The fluctuation in petroleum prices creates financial problems for the economy. Almost every commodity and its production rely on the cost of petroleum products and its price hike exacerbates the situation. An increase in the prices of utilities like electricity, petrol and gas makes the inflation rate ever higher with every passing day. The masses have become sick of this unfortunate situation and do not know whom to trust for providing real economic relief. They lost confidence in the previous coalition government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf due to its inability to bring economic reforms and now again they are looking toward the new coalition government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that would overcome the economic crisis. Wisdom demands that the current political leadership should carry out serious introspection before making economic policies for overcoming the economic challenges; otherwise, it would face the masses’ wrath in the next general elections.