Ramazan packages: Disguised acts of benevolence to win votes

Instead of ensuring a price mechanism, both governments prefer to offer charity to the masses in disgraceful ways.

Anwer Sumra July 09, 2012
With the holy month of Ramazan upon us, the federal and Punjab governments have announced subsidy packages for the poor public to facilitate price cuts on edible items as a goodwill gesture.

The Punjab government has earmarked Rs4 billion to provide subsidies on kitchen items to the poor during the holy month. In a similar initiative, the federal government has reserved Rs 2.532 billion to extend subsidies on various food items and edible commodities.

The prime objective of the packages is to ensure relief to the low-income segment of society.

This is an election year and the PPP has thought about the country’s lower-income voters to mitigate their miseries. Here in Punjab, the PML-N, the ruler of the largest province, is trying to do the same. The transitory initiative seems geared to winning the trust of the poor voters as neither party has adopted a comprehensive strategy to control inflation and establish a supply and demand mechanism to stabilise prices during their governance. Rather it is driven to temporarily give relief in hope to bag votes.

To provide relief during the month of Ramazan is not enough to make fools of the countrymen as the skyrocketing inflation and price fluctuation have made impossible, even for white collar families, to keep their body and soul together.

Packages can create a cushion for the earnings of the poor, lower middle and middle class segments of society for maybe a month but the question remains, who will extend such a facility for the remaining eleven months of the year?

Now, Muslims fasting will have to stand in long queues in scorching heat in front of federally-operated utility stores and Ramzan baazars to collect the ‘blessing’ offered by the rulers.

Instead of ensuring a price mechanism through strict implementation of relevant laws and rules to check inflation, both governments prefer to make beggars out of the masses and offer them charity in disgraceful ways.

Regulation of supply and demand in markets is the other apparatus by which to ensure that prices remain at affordable levels but this initiative has been missing in the policies of both parties, particularly in Punjab.

Here, heavyweight businessmen are involved in notorious practices of the black market to earn profits. These cosmetic steps are not sufficient to minimise the hardships of the poor. Both the governments should revisit their respective policies and make amends to bring relief to people in the long run not just during Ramazan.

Read more by Anwer here.
Anwer Sumra
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Ali | 11 years ago | Reply How many other countries in the world have sugar barons where a cabal of rich barons (in our case politicians) set the price of commodities? Manipulating food prices by anti competitive acts like this should be made illegal. More competition and less regulation on imports will free the masses from the grip of these corrupt people.
Sane | 11 years ago | Reply There wouldn't be any need of 'Packages', if prices are properly regulated and controlled. Profiteers are having profits from 50% to 150% on food commodities. This requires to be controlled. This would also save treasury by spending on 'Packages'. By the way humans also need food other than Ramadan.
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