After more than fifteen days in power, the new allied government has yet to give the go ahead on ending the draining fuel subsidy instituted by the previous government. It was clear that this subsidy was a poor and misplaced use of state funds to attempt to ward off the worst effects of inflation. The new Finance Minister himself pointed out on multiple occasions that this subsidy helps the richer segments more than the poorer ones. And yet, twenty days in, the subsidy still stands.

With the IMF programme talks expected to pick up pace, and the government’s own statements against this populist measure, one would assume that the policy would have been reversed already. But it looks like the new government is not yet ready to deal with the public outcry that would be raised as a result.

The allied parties must not forget their reason for bringing in the no-trust motion against former Prime Minister Imran Khan. All those within the current national assembly had unanimously agreed that the former government had failed in resolving public issues—mostly related to the economy—and hard decisions would have to be made. To turn back now would mean that the whole change of government exercise at the tail end of PTI’s tenure was pointless.

With a little over a year left in the next general elections—provided the delimitations and electoral reforms are completed in time—a reversal of the fuel subsidy is urgently needed. Perhaps the government is looking to counteract any stockpiling attempts by OEMs or hoarders and has not announced its plans in advance. But either way, action must be taken soon.

The government is reportedly paying over Rs90 billion a month to keep fuel prices at this level. These funds can be much more effectively utilised if they are targeted towards those that need it the most. The new government must not forget that it came on the back of promises to take the necessary steps to bring Pakistan out of the many crises it is facing. Faltering at this early juncture does not help instil confidence going forward.