Inflation and the people

Editorial Board
Monday, Oct 04, 2021

In a well-governed state, all economic, financial and political decisions must be pro-people. We have unfortunately seen less and less of that over our history. Among the many problems troubling people in a developing state, economic and financial woes come out at the top in the list of priorities to be sorted out for the obvious reason that no one is comfortable unless they are without economic vulnerabilities. In Pakistan, the government – and the opposition as well – appear to be cut-off from public concerns about the increasing inflation. If oil prices surge, the burden on the people is unbearable, especially when there are diminishing job opportunities in the country. Just engaging in slogan matches is not enough, there is much more that the government and the opposition need to do. There has been a steady rise in oil prices on a fortnightly basis, and that has been adding to the misery of people across the country.

The political parties which claim to be democratic, have to keep in mind people’s interests first and foremost. In Pakistan, we may hear about frivolous things forever, but hardly any discussion in the assemblies on the real problems of real people due to rising inflation. Just lambasting each other is not enough, both the government and the opposition must chalk out their economic and financial preferences keeping in view the hardships that people face, the reduced livelihood opportunities the public has, and the millions of mouths that we add to the population of Pakistan every year. The youth that grows up frustrated at the lack of job prospects and without marketable skills ends up living a miserable life. The parents who can’t feed their children opt for drastic steps such as jumping into a well, as a father recently did with his small children. Such incidents should serve as a wakeup call for our decision-makers who appear to be more interested in peddling ideas that have remote connection with the general public.

The upcoming talks with the IMF may bring even worse news as international financial institutions seldom have people’s interests at the centre of their programmes. Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has informed us that Saudi Arabia is willing to provide petroleum on deferred payment once again. May we humbly ask how long this borrowing spree will continue? Does the government have a long-term plan to stabilise the economy where we don’t end up with begging and borrowing bowls time and again? International lending countries and agencies do not offer a permanent solution to our economic woes; we need to find our own solutions, which the government needs to develop keeping people’s interest paramount. The free flight of the dollar and the rapid decline in stock markets are taking their toll; and ultimately it is the people of Pakistan who suffer.