Second most expensive

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THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday declared Pakistan as the second most expensive country in the South Asian region.

In its outlook for 2022, the Bank predicted that the inflation rate in Pakistan, which is 26. 6%, will remain high in the coming months and the value of Pakistani rupee may fall further.

Inflation in Pakistan reached back-breaking levels during the current year but both PTI and the present rulers have been trying to pacify people by presenting distorted picture of the ground realities, telling them that the country was still cheaper than the majority of the countries.

While comparison with the West or the Gulf region might not be appropriate because of socio-economic disparities, comparison with the South Asian region is more relevant because of the similarity of challenges and problems of the people.

We have been pointing out in these columns repeatedly that the record inflation has pushed millions of people below the poverty line and many more are forced to compromise their standard of living in the face of sky-rocketing expenditure and squeezed opportunities for money-making.

This is all the more true of fixed income groups whose salaries do not reflect the market realities.

The most unfortunate aspect of the entire episode is that the national currency has been rendered worthless in the hope that the massive devaluation would bring export dividends, an expectation that could not materialize as we have no surplus to export and the industry is closing down in the face of rising cost of doing business as is evident from the policy rate and electricity/gas tariff besides energy shortages.

The way the IMF is pushing the government to take further difficult decisions would achieve the country the ‘distinction’ of the top most expensive country in South Asia in coming months.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar says he has a strategy to overcome economic problems but indications so far do not spark confidence among inflation-ridden people.