‘Judge performance after 5 years’

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IN the backdrop of mounting criticism on policies of the Government that have led to unprecedented price-hike,Prime Minister Imran Khan has advised the critics to judge performance of the Government on completion of its mandated five-year term in 2023.

Addressing a public gathering in Attock, where he laid the foundation stone of a maternal and child hospital, the Premier argued that the top priority of his government was to uplift the downtrodden factions of the society and bring the provinces that were left behind in progress at par with others, adding that the Government would be successful if the weak people and provinces prosper after five years.

There is no doubt that every elected government is mandated to run affairs of the country for five years and performance of a Government would be judged on completion of its tenure.

It is because of this that we have all along been emphasizing in these columns that every Government should be allowed to work smoothly and let people be the judge of its performance at the time of next general elections.

However, performance doesn’t improve dramatically at the time of completion of the term of a Government as it is judged on the day-to-day basis as for as its impact on the life of the people or the state of economy is concerned.

The PTI Government surely deserves credit for taking some of the initiatives that would have far-reaching impact on the overall progress and prosperity of the country and resolution of some of the chronic problems and challenges.

Its futuristic approach to the issue of achieving water security would go a long way in averting water shortage and developing agriculture to meet the ever-increasing requirements of the growing population.

One must appreciate the focus of the Prime Minister on the issue as he termed the next ten years as ‘decade of dams’ in reference to the plan of the Government to build ten water reservoirs.

Similarly, the measures being taken to preserve the environment and immune Pakistan against the negative effects of climate change would also be a remarkable contribution of his government for the long term causes of the country.

The Government has also launched a number of welfare initiatives under Ehsaas Programme that help mitigate sufferings of the downtrodden segments of the society.

However, the Government will have to accept the reality that prices have gone beyond its control and it is helpless against different mafias that jack up prices at their will without fear of any accountability.

The Government’s handling of food inflation is a classic example of its inability to safeguard interests of the general public as prices of wheat flour, sugar and ghee/edible oil increased every time the authorities announced to take notice of the phenomenon and took some supply related, administrative and legal measures.

The entire focus of the Government machinery remains on the single argument that the price-hike is a global phenomenon, ignoring the fact that the increase in prices of wheat flour, sugar and chicken has nothing to do with the global developments.

Otherwise too, elected governments cannot afford to act merely as ‘post office’ between the international and the local markets and instead they should take prompt measures to shield their people against unbearable shocks.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that sugar mills in Punjab were involved in hoarding the sweetener and the provincial chief secretary was unable to take any action due to legal hurdles.

One fails to understand what is preventing the provincial government from presenting facts and figures before the courts so that the stays are vacated and concrete action is taken against profiteers.

Again, the attempts to pass on the blame on the Sindh Government for rising prices of wheat flour and sugar are unjust and this lame excuse has its opposite impact on the public opinion.

The PTI is in power for more than three years and the tendency of blaming the past governments of PML(N) and PPP also reflects poorly on the overall management of the economy on the part of the Government.

Exchange rate was stable throughout the tenure of the PML(N) while PPP is credited for doing enough for the fixed income groups.

It is high time the Government acknowledges the reality that the main factors behind the tsunami of price-hike were the exchange rate fiasco and conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and reviews its policies accordingly.

Otherwise, even in the fast-approaching 2023, the achievements of the Government would be eclipsed by the back-breaking inflation and it could be too late to mend.

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