Uncertain global factors coupled with imprudent domestic management has pitched the cost of living at a cliff. People are clueless, as every day they wake up to a rise in prices of essential commodities. Of late, inflation has hit 44.58%, and the genie seems uncontrollable. This leap and bound increase on a daily basis is sowing unrest, as making both ends meet for a large segment of the population is becoming a gigantic task. This is for the first time in almost a century since the Great Depression that economies are toiling, and there is no remedy at work. It is a classic example of capitalism fleecing the very essence of state-centrism at the altar of its masses.
The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics this weekend noted that prices of vegetables, pulses, cooking oil as well as rice and wheat have leaped manifold, as compared to the corresponding period, and the soaring cost of fuel and electricity is one of the prime factors behind it. The supply situation is further aggravating due to flash floods that had destroyed standing crops across the agrarian lands in Sindh and Punjab. Kharif crops, especially cotton, are reportedly ruined, sending dangerous signals to the already stagnated export market of the country. The deluge from the mountains has brought civic and business life to a naught, and logistics are at a standstill. This will surely have a long-lasting impact on the country’s economic outlook, which is yet to get on the bandwagon of the IMF as the negotiated deal has hit snags.
Having spread the fact-sheet on the table, the million-dollar question is: what next? How to navigate out of the crisis, and bring relief to commoners? Do piecemeal measures of handing over ration and announcing cash emoluments come as a real succour? The answer is ‘no’. The government will have to take ownership of the produce and price it as per the belt of the nation. It has to be kept in mind that food insecurity can adversely impact a country’s security. Genuine policies are needed to feed 220 million mouths in a graceful manner.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2022.