It is no secret that Pakistan had no choice but to approach the IMF, given the economic emergency and the threat of default facing the country. The economic landmines left behind by the PTI government have undoubtedly made the Prime Minister’s office a most poisonous gift, but the belated decisions of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government on raising fuel prices have cost the government billions. Pakistan in six weeks. So how is Pakistan recovering from the deep financial pit it has fallen into? For now, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered tough austerity measures such as not buying new vehicles, cutting petrol quotas for bureaucrats and ministers, and cutting electricity, gas bills and telephone of cabinet members and government officials. Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also imposed lower gasoline consumption on their ministers. But the question is whether this austerity campaign will bring any relief. For the most part, without efforts to cut subsidies to the elite, these measures may grab headlines but will remain a welfare lens – as the country’s people face the worst financial crisis to hit the country. .
There is also no doubt that the issue of inflation will play an important role in the upcoming elections – the government having essentially handed over a powerful slogan to the PTI. Most people won’t be concerned about what led to these disastrous decisions and won’t care much about the role of the PTI in getting us to where we are today. For the people, the current government is the one that introduced these price hikes, and it is now up to the current government – which seems to have decided that it is now definitely here for the long haul – to provide some relief. Instead of shifting the entire burden of the economy onto the poor and working classes, the government must address the 1% of the country – take back special subsidies and tax exemptions; introduce taxes on large land holdings; and resume real estate incentives. Essentially, the government must target the capture of the elite who have suffocated the country for decades.
The predictions of economic experts are enough to give sleepless nights to anyone who doesn’t belong to the small elite whose benefits never seem to be affected, no matter the crisis. The recent fuel price hike, gasoline prices rising 45% next month and Moody’s downgrade will likely lead to a slowing economy, massive layoffs across the board, especially in the industry private, and other price increases after the budget. mention that inflation could climb to 23% by next year. If the government realizes how badly things will get – and there is little evidence to suggest it doesn’t – surely it has a plan to at least somewhat mitigate the effects of this massive inflation? Whether it is reducing special privileges given to certain industries and sectors or persuading the private sector to rethink employee wages, working hours and working days, the government must show that its austerity campaign is not stop limiting the fuel expenses of ministers and bureaucrats. There is no option to make things work as if nothing had happened.