IT is now official that inflation in Pakistan has broken a 70-year record in the last three years, with food prices doubling,while the prices of ghee, oil, sugar, flour and poultry have reached historic levels.
According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FSP), from October 2018 to October 2021, electricity rates increased by 57%, LPG 51%, petrol 49%, edible oil and ghee 108%, sugar 83%, pulses 60 to 76%, wheat flour 52%, beef 48%, mutton 43%, eggs 47%, milk 32%, rice 30%, bread 44% and tea leaves 27%.
The data gives an idea of what happened to the common man during the last three years as far as increase in prices of commodities, especially those of food items is concerned, which has upset the household budgets.
The worst aspect of the entire situation is that there is no silver lining on the horizon as the rupee continues to slide (it touched Rs 175 a dollar) on Monday, there are media reports that the POL prices are about to be jacked up significantly once again during the next few days and rates of electricity and gas may also go up in line with commitments with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
It is also strange that the Government is not making public what it discussed with the IMF in recent talks and is also not willing to share the details with Parliament, which is quite contrary to its claims of transparency.
The argument that the middle-man was minting money is somewhat justified but who is responsible to take counter measures and save the people from exploitation.
Similarly, the claim that the network of Sasta Bazaars and Utility Stores outlets are being expanded for provision of smooth supply of items of daily use to the people is hardly relevant to the ground situation as expansion of the network can, at best, ease supply side but the real question is rising prices that are going beyond the absorbing capacity of the people. The situation has also forced the USC to adjust prices upward repeatedly.
No doubt, the Government took some policy measures, administrative actions and is pledging to announce relief packages but these have, so far, not mitigated pressure on the masses and instead this is mounting with the passage of time.
The situation is getting out of control and it is high time the authorities realize its gravity and take urgent measures to arrest the trend and provide relief to the people commensurate with the record-breaking inflation.