Despite tall claims frequently made by the Federal
and Provincial Governments, the cost of living is increasing sharply in
The Consumer Price Index reveals that the inflation
during the year shot up by 7.13 percent in the previous month of May and
by 4.22 percent during the entire financial year 2003-04 as against 3.9
percent of the year 2002-03.
Although the government claims that the per capital
income was also increase by 12 percent to $652 GNP, $582 2002-03, but it
all seems as the gimmickry of the figures, as the ground realities
present a contradictory picture indicating that even the essential items
getting out of the reach of the common man.
The decision to cut a few paisas in electricity price
seems eyewash rather a mockery with the poverty-ridden people of this
country. Instead of reducing the electricity charges by few paisas, the
situation calls for a drastic cut in the surcharge, additional
surcharge, fuel adjustment charges and a number of other charges levied
on power consumption which obviously make the life miserable for a large
segment of the middle class in the society.
The facts on ground ridicule the government's
statistics issued by the Federal Bureau of Statistic of Pakistan.
On the Government's papers, retail prices of Atta is
still between Rs. 12.00 and Rs. 13.00 per Kg while it is being sold in
retail from Rs. 16.00 to Rs. 18.00 per Kg. Local price control mechanism
is virtually has been scrapped by the profiteers. Prices of fresh
vegetable, fresh milk and fruit sharply increased. Potatoes are being
sold at the rates of Rs. 10 to Rs. 12, which were sold in retail at the
rate of Rs. 6 to Rs. 8 during corresponding month of last year. Tomatoes
had touched figure of Rs. 30 early this year and now is being sold at
the rate of Rs 16 which was sold at Rs. 8 during corresponding month in
2003 while fresh milk's retail price as Rs. 25 have been fixed by the
milkmen at their own while governmentís rate are lower. Last year fresh
milk rate were Rs. 20 to Rs. 22 during corresponding month.
This is the first time in the country's history that
fare of public transport that include, mini buses, buses, coaches and
taxis have now virtually gone out of the hand of lower class people. In
this sector too, the provincial ministries control over public transport
has ended. Auto rickshaws have scrapped their outdated meters and bus,
mini bus and coach operators are charging fair at their own ignoring the
government's fixation. House rent in the lower class areas including
slum areas which was about Rs. 500 to Rs. 600 only is now over Rs. 1,000
and 1,500. In the middle class localities house rent which was between
Rs. 3,000 to 5,000 now has gone up to Rs. 10,000 whereas in upper class
localities it has sharply increased from Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 15,000.
Power, Gas and Telephone tariff during last three
years have virtually gone from the reach of middle and lower class
people. The bills of the utilities are confusing with the different
levies, including sales tax, withholding tax, energy charges,
development tax etc. the reduction in the power tariff and POL prices
have been joke with the poor people as only few piasas were reduced per
During last three years entire system of price
control from Federal to Provincial level is in mess from top to bottom.
There is no any stability at any level, uncertainty on political level
is not allowing these issues on priority. Especially Sindh and
Balochistan Provinces are on top where law and order situation is worst.
The most unfortunate aspect of the who scenario is,
that profiteers do not miss single chance to mint money from essential
commodities retails and whole sale due to ineffective system of price
control. In retail and wholesale markets, atta, edible oil, poultry,
meat, beef, sugar, fresh milk, yogurt and other essential commodities
are being sold at exorbitant rates.
Poverty rate in Pakistan, which was 17.5 % in 1997,
has now surged to more than 50% and government's statistics credibility
has come extremely doubtful. For the last many years economists are
demanding reduction in the production cost which is only possible if
utility tariff including power, gas and POL is reduced. They also said
that foreign investment into the country was never a solution to reduce
the cost of living as foreign investors can not generate job
opportunities on large scale but they take huge profit as compare to the
investment. They said foreign investment would bring negative results on
long term basis.
Taxation system on lower class people is also one of
the major reason for increasing living cost and increasing poverty
level. Experts said that there should not be a single tax on poor at any
Wheat crisis is one of the most important factor
which directly affected lower class people, that has caused 200%
increase in bread and roti rate, only four years ago roti was sold only
Rs. 1.25 now that it has gone up to the rate of Rs. 2.50 to Rs. 300.
In a small restaurant, where a poor could eat lunch
or dinner within Rs. 12 only now not possible even within Rs 25.00.
Poor performance by agriculture sector during
2003-2004 will also deteriorate the situation in future, especially in
wheat, sugarcane and vegetable.
Policy makers are constanly ignoring the basic rules,
which are causing sharp increase of cost of living in the country.
Experts and opinion leaders said that cost of living would increase more
sharply if senseless privatizing trend continue. Energy sector including
KESC, de-regulation of POL sector and communication sector would further
increase miseries of the poor people.
Education and health sectors have virtually disturbed
lower income people, lower class people which is the majority of the
total population can not afford education cost and health facilities
from the private sectors. There is 200% increase in the retail sale of
the life saving drugs and health facilities at the government level are
very low as compare to the population.
In the lower class localities, a head of the family
has to pay Rs 2,000 for education, including fees and books cost for
average students from two to four. Even in the government run schools
per student cost is stated to be Rs. 250 to Rs. 300 per month.