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Asad’s bitter pill

MINISTER for Finance Asad Umar said on Wednesday that increasing inflationary pressure was big worrying thing as stabilization required adjustments in the wake of massive losses on internal and external fronts of the economy. Speaking in the meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, he came out with the logic that when progress takes place, prices go up, adding that inflation will increase further and people will cry.
The statement of the Minister seems to be a warning for the people before announcement of the next year’s budget in about three months. His remarks are apparently aimed at preparing the masses for the bitter pill he frequently prescribes for treatment of a malaise that requires something else. We have been emphasizing in these columns that frequent resorts to increasing rates of gas and electricity on the pretext of losses of the utility companies is neither answer to their woes not that of the economy. The real problem is rampant corruption and power and gas theft, which the government has miserably failed to stem and is resorting to the easiest and tried path of increasing charges and penalizing honest consumers to fund corruption and theft. Increase in rates of gas and electricity also leads to increased cost of production, rendering our products uncompetitive in the international market. The Minister says that progress comes with price-hike but at the moment there is increased inflation but no progress visible, which belies his claims on the issue. People have received major shocks during two mini budgets that the present Government presented in a year and they cannot afford to sustain more in the coming budget, which must be people friendly. The resources of the government can be increased by plugging loopholes, luring investment and promoting industrialization.