Pakistan has been facing a challenge of self-survival. It takes one step forward followed by two or more steps backward just for the sake of self security, and the whole country still remains in the tight grip of rampant corruption and a massive poverty at a huge scale. The poverty-stricken masses have exhausted their patience.
The social diseases such as the sardari system, vaderaism, choudrahat and other mafias have been all over the poor nation-causing misery and cruelty to the enslaved masses.
On the other hand, lack of democratic maturity and too much of military involvement in the civilian administration has cost the nation tremendously.
Although, the so-called democracy has finally started working half heartedly, yet it still suffers a set back due to a civilian dictator.
Good news is that a gradual transfer of power has finally started to reach where it really belongs. It is also encouraging that the newly revived judiciary has almost begun to decree the matters on merit basis.
With the demise of the notorious National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), the country can hope for getting the looted wealth back. However, the Judiciary must take sou motto notice of the manipulated removal of evidence from the Swiss lawyer’s office by the government of Pakistan just to help the VIP personality. The ball is now in the court of judiciary to punish the culprits-despite failed attempts on the life of CJP Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Choudhry.
In fact, the inflationary pressure is not national, rather it is worldwide due to the war hysteria ongoing constantly for the last many years. Nevertheless, the federal government must reprioritize the issues in line with the national interests in view of the skyrocketing fuel cost, yet, it seems tough to stabilize democracy and national economy with a beggar’s bowl in hands.
And, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) seems compelled to impose tax on fuel to satisfy the conditionality imposed by the IMF. However, petroleum ministry officials claim that the impact of oil prices in the international market is passed on to consumers as government taxes are fixed.
The culture of taxing puts extra pressure on the people with more inflation and price hikes of every item of their need. The electricity, gas, agricultural inputs and items of daily use have become more expensive.
The hike in the petroleum prices would lead to add further to the cost of transporting goods and other fares, hence the fragile economy would deteriorate further in the coming days.
According to Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, over 7% hike in prices of petroleum products would hit hard both the industrial and agriculture sectors besides stoking up inflation, the entire industrial sector was already facing multiple internal and external challenges and the petroleum price increase would further aggravate the economic situation and after increase in petroleum prices, power rates would touch new highs. The Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front (PIAF) termed the increase in petroleum prices anti-trade, anti-industry and anti-people.
In fact, the IMF sets macro-economic parameters within which a government receiving funds is advised to operate by reducing expenses and by increasing revenues. The government fails to check rampant tax evasion. Indirect taxes are the easiest way to mop up revenues. It is easier to increase rates of gas, electricity and petroleum product than correcting corrupt business persons and crooked officials who are responsible for stealing Rs 500 billion a month.
To cover up the lost revenue due to tax evasion, the government conveniently arranges a steady revenue flow from petroleum products by increasing prices in line with global rates of crude oil.
Fairly speaking, a shifting of burden of oil price hike to the poor masses is unjustifiable, rather, the State should eradicate corruption, curtail expenses and discontinue non-productive expenditures and projects.
The writer is an independant analyst based in Canada.
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