Government’s helplessness

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TALL claims made by the incumbent coalition government before and immediately after assuming power in respect of controlling the menace of load-shedding and effectively checking the rising inflation have proved mirage and now the Government seems to be helpless in fulfilling its commitments on the two priority concerns of people of Pakistan.

That the Government was in a fix is also evident from the remarks made by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif who said, while chairing a meeting on the energy situation, that it was a “very, very difficult” challenge faced by the Government in terms of managing the ongoing electricity load-shedding.

He acknowledged that the Government refrained from procuring expensive gas and the previous government missed the opportunity to purchase cheap gas.

There is no denying the fact that the previous Government disturbed the cheaper LNG deal with Qatar merely because of political bias and missed opportunities for the purchase of cheap gas from the international market but the blame game would not resolve the problem.

LNG prices are on the higher side in the international market due to the Russia-Ukraine war but a solution has to be found as the country cannot afford the continuation of the worst kind of load- shedding with crippling effects for the national economy and life of the individual citizens.

Shortage caused by disruption of LNG supplies is not the only problem facing the energy sector as electricity tariff is going beyond the absorbing capacity of the consumers and has become yet another factor behind record increase in inflation.

It should be a source for concern for the Government that Data from Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) shows that the inflation rate, which was 13.76% jumped to 21.32% in June, which is the highest in the last 13 years.

Unfortunately, there is no silver-lining on the horizon as prices of petroleum products would continue to rise in months to come as per understanding with the IMF and the relevant ministers warned on Friday that the energy prices will keep increasing for the next three to four months because of ‘landmines laid by Imran Khan’ and then start a downward trend in November–December this year.

This position is not sustainable in view of the overall state of the economy and vulnerability of the consumers and, therefore, out-of-box solutions will have to be found as did Shahiad Khaqan Abbasi during his stint as Minister for Petroleum to overcome the challenge.

 

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