Editorial More misery Saturday, April 02, 2011

So, we have timed bombs, suicide bombs and now petrol bombs. Who knows what kind of missive the government is going to throw at us next, but we can be certain it will be one designed to wound and leave behind terrible scars that may never fade to thin, white lines. The nine to 13 percent raise in PoL prices is a blow that would fell even the strongest. We suddenly find petrol prices up by nearly seven rupees per litre, diesel rates by Rs 10.67, and the price of every other oil product climbing higher too. As has now become the norm, petrol stations shut down before the rise to maximise profits. Transporters have immediately raised rates, the prices of most other items will go up and opposition parties have lodged their protests. We have seen it all before. The giant newspaper ads taken out by the ‘people’s government’ blaming the increase on international rates, do nothing to soften the blow or make it any easier for people whose budgets are already stretched beyond their limit to manage in practical terms. Many can simply no longer do so.

It is ironic that the raise comes only days after a senior official of the UN’s World Food Programme warned about the impact of rising food prices on people and pointed to high levels of malnutrition notably in Sindh. We wonder if the government has any idea what it expects people to do now to put bread on the table. The hike in PoL prices will break many backs. Tens of thousands of people commuting to offices, factories and other places will need to pay much more to do so. The increase simply isn’t sustainable. This is not a burden that the already impoverished people can carry without bending over and perhaps dropping to the ground. The government needs to consider if it can live with such measures. The subsidy on oil items will go down after the increase. But all kinds of other pressures will soar. The leaders will need to live with the growing distress and disillusionment of people; they will also face a growing chorus of criticism from all directions. In the midst of this cacophony, it may be hard for the PPP set-up to make itself heard at all. Attempting to solve economic problems at the cost of peoples’ welfare can only have a negative effect. We do not see austerity measures or a serious effort to cut down on government expenditures. This is what is needed most of all. The growing burden on people could trigger a crisis which will make recovery all the more difficult. 

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=39477&Cat=8

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