The Punjab Ehsaas Rashan Programme has been the provincial government’s latest relief scheme worth Rs.100 billion. The hope is that through subsidising the prices of basic commodities, problems of food insecurity and unaffordability will improve. At the same time however, the inflation rate reduced by 1.2 percent on a month-on-month basis and now stands at 23.2 percent. The market is showing slight signs of stability, in the face of which provincial governments should also focus on enhancing revenue. Excessive concessions brought us closer to economic collapse and to continue with the same policies would be to our detriment.

According to the Chief Minister of Punjab, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the Ehsaas Rashan Programme will give deserving families flour, pulses and cooking oil at a 40 percent discounted price. He also stated that at least 80,000 people have responded positively to the new scheme and that thousands of families have registered themselves so that they are able to get access to these goods without any difficulties. Not only will this invoke a sigh of relief for the masses but it will renew some confidence in the economy’s health. So, in the short term, this was needed so that citizens are not completely disillusioned with the state.

However, the same policies of offering subsidies with the fear that high prices will lead to unpopularity, which in turn will compromise the elections, have been followed for years. Provincial governments have compromised on countless revenue streams that can contribute positively to the economy, for the sake of maintaining cheaper prices. This additional cost must be eliminated, if not now then at least in the long term. We have to move past this model if we are to become semi-functional as a state.