For a vast majority of Pakistan’s population, grappling with the relentless onslaught of inflation that is squeezing livelihoods, the recent news comes as a painful blow. Amidst the ongoing fiscal year, where international financial institution’s mandates hold sway, the beleaguered populace witnesses successive increments in electricity rates, resulting in an additional burden of a staggering Rs721 billion on consumers.
Breaking down the figures paints a gloomy picture: a surge of Rs1.25 per unit in electricity charges looms till September under the guise of quarterly adjustments, extracting a hefty Rs39 billion. As we move from September to December, a Rs4.37 per unit increase in fuel adjustment costs translates into a colossal collection of Rs122 billion. Beyond these, the annual rebasing scheme aims to gather a whopping Rs560 billion by jacking up electricity rates by Rs5.75 per unit. This is purportedly aimed at taming the spiraling cycle of debt in the power sector.
Sources say that this fiscal maneuvering strives to curtail the revolving debt to Rs2.1 trillion by the fiscal year’s close, a notable reduction from the previous staggering sum of Rs2.7 trillion as of June. The rationale behind this unrelenting hike, which the ruling coalition government has exercised for two decades, claims its necessity under the conditions laid down by the IMF. Yet, it raises a pertinent question: is raising electricity and gas rates the sole avenue to shore up financial resources?
Recent data presented in the recently gone National Assembly reveals an astonishing theft of five hundred billion rupees worth of electricity in the past 15 months alone. Inequities become further glaring when the elite enjoy the privilege of receiving billions worth of free electricity, gas, and petrol, a luxury funded directly from the people’s taxes.
What if we were to put a halt to this pilferage, ending these exclusive perks? The result could be transformative. Not only would it potentially alleviate the burden on electricity, gas, and petrol prices, but it could also create a cascading effect that reduces manufacturing and transportation costs across the board. By stemming this tide, the country might find a way to finally dam the rampant flood of inflation that has inundated countless lives.
While grappling with the throes of the IMF’s stipulations is no small feat, it’s imperative for the caretaker government to contemplate alternative routes that can alleviate the financial strain on the masses. A nation’s progress shouldn’t be built upon exacerbating the financial struggles of its people, but rather through fostering an environment where their burdens are eased, aspirations uplifted, and futures secured.