1. A common man/ woman may not understand consistent devaluation of Rupee or depreciation of assets or KSE-100 Index drops or increasing Debts and compound mark-ups, circular debt; but certainly feels the heat of price hike, consequent unemployment, job security and pressure of utility bills. Political instability or any affiliation aside, deteriorating economic situation and its ramifications are sore issues, the govt as well as related institutions have to address urgently.
2. Pakistan is among few countries which excelled under global pandemic lasting over two years but couldn’t cash it in post pandemic stage. Economies of even the most advanced countries suffered negatively and are under pressure even now. After USA, the Europe is suffering heavily due economic meltdown. UK is facing hard times along with France. Now the German economy is also in recession. Its GDP has fallen down by 0.3% in the first quarter of the year. As per German Finance Minister Herr Christian Lindner, German GDP data has shown “surprisingly negative signals “.
3. Though one of the major cause in Europe has been prolonged Ukrainian war, due their dependency on import of fuel from Russia, yet other factors also contribute to dismal economic conditions. Not only the major industrial units have suffered, but the small industry and related services have also suffered, causing dismal conditions for common people.
4. As US Vice President, Ms Kamala Harris says,” Small business leaders are the engine of our economy. And when we invest in their potential, we invest in America “, same holds good for our country. With IMF program uncertain, we are facing a lot of difficulties, which would be compounded due lesser revenue collection, higher energy prices, coming budget and fear of flagging once again by the credit agencies.
5. It has been a blessing from Almighty that Pakistan had an exceedingly good wheat crop this season, despite heavy floods of last year. Crops hold a 7.7% weight in GDP. Cotton, however, suffered which declined by 34% year-on-year (YoY) in the first 10 months of FY 2023, as reported by Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association. An estimated 70% of population of our our country is linked to agriculture sector, any negative trend hurts us the most.
6. Commodities are the basic goods that make up everyday life. They can include metals such as copper, gold and silver; energy sources such as crude oil and natural gas; agricultural commodities such as wheat and coffee; and livestock and meat products such as poultry and cattle. For a common family in Pakistan, few commodities like wheat, rice, pulses, meat, tea, milk, spices and cooking oil (ghee) fall under daily use commodities (essential one as we call them). Govts always keeps a check on their availability, prices, adequate quality and supply. However, the prices of these have gone very high recently, making commoners vulnerable, over burdened and worrisome.
7. A good quality milk in Karachi is over Rs 200/litre, mutton is Rs 2000/kg, beef is Rs 1250/kg and pulses are around Rs 500/kg. Where as average wheat flour is Rs 140/kg, Rice is Rs 180/kg, sugar is Rs 120/kg, tea 900 grams is of Rs 1525 and cooking oil is Rs 640/litre. These are alarming not only for daily wagers but also salaried class. Realistically it’s very difficult to meet two ends honourably under these situations. It leads to frustration, demoralisation and demotivation.
8. Above factor do contribute to increase in street crimes and unhealthy activities, especially in the youth. Unemployed individuals are at a higher risk for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues than people with jobs. Research shows that people who have experienced longer periods of unemployment have poorer health by age 50 than people who have been steadily employed.
9. It’s obvious that prices of essential daily use commodities are increasing, including those of transportation, medical, education, socio-religious obligations (like marriages, Hajj/Umrah, birth/burials etc). In order to help public overcome it, people from all walks of life should come forward.
10. Few steps which should be taken, some immediately and some as long time measures are ;
a) Control expenditures at all levels, by the govt as well as public.
b) Austerity measures, in real terms and not a show piece.
c) Give more importance to Agriculture sector (with targeted subsidies).
d) Control business syndicates, as well as stockists who creat artificial crises in the markets.
e) Controlled imports with reduced duty on fundamental goods, with strict vigilance.
f) Control over smuggling and contra band items.
g) Growth rate of population be controlled.
h) Charity organisations be directed to make the needy ‘stand on their own feet’ , instead of relying on them permanently. Govt institutions should assist them, rather than taking over them.
I) Private sector of industry/business be encouraged and more employment opportunities be created by them.
j) Capital flight be controlled strictly and wisely.
k) Money laundering/ Hundi system be curbed.
l) Magisterial system of check on price hike / hoarding be ensured across the board.
11. The effect of price hike convert the lower income people to marginal and the middle income people to the lower income people. People with a decent salary of one time may become poorer with the spiraling of price. The personal and social costs of unemployment include severe financial hardship and poverty, debt, homelessness and housing stress, family tensions and breakdown, boredom, alienation, shame and stigma, increased social isolation, crime, erosion of confidence and self-esteem, the atrophying of work skills and ill-health. And in a country which has been victim of terrorism for decades, it can creat ripples.