While the country somehow managed to overcome sporadic waves of Covid-19, the new and brutal wave of inflation has taken its toll across the country, following the steep depreciation of the Rupee against the Dollar, high commodities and rocketing petroleum product prices in the global markets.
The incumbent government seems toothless to dilute the pressure of global factors which are eventually combined together as a wave of inflation flooding the vulnerable masses of the country, which had already been facing a crunch situation after the Covid-19 outbreak and its related lockdowns.
The government and the public have been clueless in overcoming this wave, which is not new in the country but a recurring phenomenon which comes time and again every other year, and affects the majority of the population in a very ruthless way. A wave of inflation cannot only be overcome through governance measures and checks, but a transparent systematic process in the economy to address core indicators.
The government, the opposition parties and the state institutions should take a joint lead to work aggressively to implement a system in the economy which actually proves a shield against the global and regional impacts on the local prices of various goods and services. The foremost exercise is to ensure food security in the country with the increasing yields of essential kitchen items which will be available to the majority of the public at affordable prices. The digitisation of the agriculture economy may bring transparency in the system which will weaken the collusion in fields of various commodities (flour and sugar) to blackmail the government through hiding and reducing supplies.
Also, the role of middlemen should be reduced between the ends of supplies and demands in the local area. The local chain of supermarkets and ecommerce systems are making it possible at a very small scale but the benefits are passed on to the consumers as result of a direct connection between manufacturers and retail sellers. A massive plan of localisation should be introduced with targets which ensure the availability of locally assembled or manufactured products against imported items. In a large market, foreign brands and investors should be encouraged to set up plants in Pakistan with local partners which we can see in the case of assembling smartphones by renowned brands of the world.
The adoption of advanced technology and new trends of business could overcome factors that bring the wave of inflation in the country for ages but we need to first change our mindset, which is thought to be difficult from rocket science in the country. First, the government should switch to electric cars and a mass transit system which obviously needs huge investment but it ensures savings on a long-term basis with an additional advantage of reduced side effects on climate. The incentive-based policy will attract investment from local and foreign investors and things will work in this direction.
The migration towards self-reliance and sustainability is not a cakewalk but it is a medium to long-term process which will not only reduce the heavy imports of the country but revitalise the local economy at an amazing pace. The generation of tax revenue will be an additional bonus. On the other hand, the government and state institutions must work to enhance the income of the country from external markets which means increasing inflows of foreign exchange and stability of foreign reserves and local currency.
Exports and remittance receipts and multiple socio-economic indicators could be improved once we empower the local masses through the required education and skill based training for the masses. This is the foremost priority area which the state should address on a war-footing basis. Unfortunately, improvements in the system are not possible without political will. Influential people sitting in the corridors of power for ages have vested interests and the business attached to the present system of exploitation and corruption, and they do protect the present system to protect themselves.