1100% hike in gas prices compared to the previous year is news of tough winters ahead. This hike, being a major contributor to over 40% increase in short-term inflation, reflects poorly on the management and mitigation of the adverse effects on millions of households. When winters set in, people are mostly worried about gas shortages. This time, there is an additional worry of bearing too much cost for a life essential. Prices of some other essential commodities have also increased – contributing to a drastic rise in short-term inflation.
Middle and lower-middle-class income groups face the most pressure of inflation. Recent cut downs in fuel prices brought a general sense of relief. But it seems like the burden has not shifted completely, only moved to a slightly different place. Statistics indicate indicating economic challenges are far from over. But people-friendly policies can act as a shield, where at least already strained households do not carry the weight of the overall economic crunch.
Policies of increasing prices of essential commodities, fuel, and gas must be deliberated extensively before implementation. The government should seek other economic alternatives first. Such massive hikes can be enforced only as a last option. But announcing such fluctuation every now and then is a big trouble for general public. Economic management and policy discussion must be thoughtful with the goal of keeping prices stable. A 10% jump in the Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) compared to last week indicates a lack of such thoughtfulness.
It is a fact that Pakistan’s economic options are limited and an ongoing effort to acquire some relief from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is causing rapid shifts in economic policies. But public service and welfare must be the top agenda and priority of all relevant government ministries when they sit down to navigate through the mighty economic challenges. People should get maximum relief and frequent price hikes must be avoided at all costs.