While the government’s claims revolve around giving “relief to the poor,” its actions on certain occasions hit masses the hardest. Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s recent approval of “minimal increase” in the petroleum products will increase inflation in the country. The optics of the price increase is nothing less than insulting for ordinary people. Anyone having knowledge of the margins the government keep on petroleum products sees the slight-increase-logic while keeping in mind the public interest a cruel joke. Of late, an average Pakistani has experienced an inverse relationship between their income and the ever-increasing prices of basic commodities. The situation is bound to worsen with the latest price hike in fuel products.

The continuous increase (fifth time in two months) in fuel costs shows that the trend to try and generate state revenue on the back of petroleum products is becoming a little untenable. The government needs to find alternatives for generating revenues for itself. The prices of all products in the consumer basket are linked to the prices of fuel; raise the diesel prices and most items will increase in value.

Whether the opposition parties’ criticism of the price increase is politically motivated or not, the reality is that the continuous increase in fuel costs have made it difficult for people to meet their ends. The PM insists that the government’s efforts to reduce inflation are producing results and the consumer price index (CPI) and core inflation today are lower than they were in 2018. However, the ground reality is altogether different. A practical step in the public interest that the state can take is to reduce the petroleum levy on the fuel products that it had quadrupled in January 2019.