News Analysis: Inflation hitting every household budget

A new wave of inflation is hitting hard the domestic budget of a common Pakistani. The prices of daily use commodities especially food items are spiraling high on a daily basis while the government seems helpless in checking this horrible trend. New records of inflation are giving shocks to the common man on a regular basis. According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, in May, inflation escalated to a 28-month high of 13.8 per cent in urban areas while in rural areas it touched the figure of 15 percent. Overall, it shows a gradual surge in wholesale inflation this year.

Mainly inflation in the fuel and energy sectors has quickened every month. Food articles and eatables are another source of worry, especially the prices of meat and vegetables have increased considerably. A latest move by the Shehbaz Sharif government to increase POL and electricity prices will further add to inflation in the coming days and a strong backlash is expected from the general public. While inflation in vegetable prices is slightly low yet there is still uncertainty in the prices of other food items. Reportedly, the prices of flour have increased leading to an increase in poverty. Manufactured products are also signalling a worrying wider inflationary trend. This could feed through to consumer price gains. Manufacture of basic metals that includes a range of goods from alloy steel castings, stainless steel tubes to copper plates and aluminium sheets – products that find diverse applications across multiple end-use industries – posted headline inflation.

Apart from this, the prices of flour, sugar, rice are on the rise. The government needs to intervene to bring down the rate of poverty in the country. In the present age, people are suffering from various complications in their lives. Some disheartened citizens even commit suicide due to poverty and inflation. It is very tragic to note that the poverty and inflation rate in Pakistan is increasing day by day and more than 40 percent people within the country are living below the poverty line. They are earning less than Rs150 daily. Furthermore, 52 percent of the population in Balochistan is living below the poverty line. Punjab, which is considered a developed province, has 19 percent of its population living below the poverty line. For the last many months, the prices of essential commodities have been rising. With a meagre salary, it has become difficult for the majority of people to make both ends meet. A man with a fixed income finds it difficult to meet all his family needs. He is always in trouble. He cannot think of a way out. The common man is crushed. He cannot meet even his daily requirements. The prices of essential commodities and things of daily use are rising almost every other week and sometimes it happens even after two or three days. There is always a solution to every problem. In order to put a check on these soaring prices, it is imperative for the government to plug all the loopholes and check black marketers, hoarders and profiteers. These elements are the enemies of the people. Such unworthy elements should be punished. If their avaricious activities are not stopped, the common man will not be able to take a sigh of relief and he will be crushed under the wheel of this price hike.

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 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 for this political adventurism.

The best way for every new government should be the focus on utilizing 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 that only the rich class can afford. Our reliance on imported petroleum products is also an added burden. The fluctuation in POL prices creates financial problems for the economy. Almost every commodity and its production relies on the cost of POL and its price hike exacerbates the situation. An increase in the prices of utilities like electricity, petrol and gas make the inflation rate ever higher with every passing day.

Arguably, the situation is going from bad to worse in almost all sectors. Inflation rate is going up due to persistent devaluation of rupee while our economy is under severe pressure of loans. The masses have become sick of this unfortunate situation and do not know whom to trust for providing real economic relief. They are losing confidence in the government due to its inability to bring economic reforms. Wisdom demands that the PML-N 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.