MINISTER for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has acknowledged that salaries of the Government employees were not increased in proportion to inflation, creating difficulties for the salaried class.
Speaking at the swearing in ceremony of the PTV Employees Union, he, however, put the blame on previous governments claiming they took huge loans, sunk the institutions and now due to repayment of loans and high global prices of essential commodities a difficult situation was created which has affected the salaried class the most.
The statement of the Minister is encouraging in that it reflects realization on the part of the Government about the pathetic conditions of the fixed income groups in the face of sky-rocketing prices.
The Government tried to mitigate sufferings of the employees when 10% relief was offered during the budget but it may be pointed out that the relief was not enough to compensate for the loss of purchasing power till then and prices of almost all items has gone up considerably after the budget and the process is still continuing.
In its monthly Economic Update and Outlook, the Finance Ministry has tried to mentally prepare people for more shocks by forecasting that surge in international oil prices, exchange rate depreciation and adjustments in administered prices — may intensify the magnitude of prices and transportation costs.
Justifying the inability of the Government to increase salaries, the Information Minister argued that Pakistan does not produce oil and its gas reserves too are depleting and therefore, there was no money to protect people against inflation.
A majority of the countries of the world have no oil and gas reserves but they are at the height of prosperity by focusing on research and development, industrialization and exports.
However, leaving this debate aside, the price-hike has gone beyond the absorbing capacity of the fixed income groups and the Government should immediately announce major relief for employees and pensioners.
This would be in line with the spirit of the State of Madina as vulnerable segments of the society cannot be left at the mercy of circumstances.