Increase in prices of essential commodities is becoming a norm in Pakistan. Food prices are increasing day by day. Prices of rice, sugar, milk, fruits, vegetables and cooking oils etc. have increased significantly in the last seven years, putting pressure on overall consumer prices. Another factor in rising prices is that people are paying more than they can afford for essential services like health, education and transport. Inflation associated with capitalism and privatization led to a complete decline in living standards. With few exceptions, prices of vegetables and fruits increased by 250 to 300% during this period.
The situation has worsened due to the impact of several rounds of price hikes on petroleum, electricity and gas products, which have had an alarming impact on the prices of many commodities. Today, the poor spend most of their income on food and fuel. Prices have gone up, but the wages of the common man are also going down. Edible oil prices have skyrocketed. The price of tomato went up to Rs.60-70 and has increased even more. Just as the price of onion made the poor people cry, now it is the turn of pulses. The price of the staple commodity of the poor has almost tripled and there is no visible measure to check its rise. Due to rising prices across the country, the life of the common man is becoming more and more difficult.
Prices of daily necessities have skyrocketed; A common man cannot support his family with the meager resources earned through hard work. The prices of kitchen items are so high that they are beyond the reach of the common man. Traders are robbing the poor and the government is doing nothing but playing the role of a silent spectator.
The poor, and the lower middle class, especially the low-paid working class in the private sector, must maintain a reasonable standard of living on a fixed income. Now the prices of essential commodities, especially food, have gone up making it difficult to cover all the expenses comfortably. What about children’s education and family health care costs. Today Rs.100 note is only Rs.10. The skyrocketing prices of food items are a cause for concern. Now, they cannot think of savings and vacations as they have to maintain their budget within limited income. Many people have resorted to reducing the quantity of items they usually buy. They started compromising on the nutritional food they buy for their children.
Prices of essential commodities, unaffordable cost of buying or building a house, ever-increasing education costs, unaffordable house rents, skyrocketing transportation costs, work and social outings, prices of essential commodities have increased in the last seven years. Civil governments. People started spending their savings in line with inflation to meet both needs and to pay college/university fees. If this trend continues for long, I think the people of Pakistan will have to go into debt to run their families.
Price lists, if issued by local authorities, are displayed in shops. Nowadays, wholesalers and retailers, especially of fruits and vegetables, enjoy the freedom to cheat consumers by hoarding the goods despite all the claims of the authorities concerned. The price of sugar has already risen to unaffordable levels. We are now at the mercy of the local administration which ignores this vital issue. There is no check and balance to control prices; The authorities should check and control the prices and strict action should be taken against the beneficiaries.
Pakistan, once the “breadbasket” of Asia, is now dependent on India due to the bogus policies of successive governments. Pakistan currently has the largest number of undernourished people. The life of 120 million people living and working on small farms has become very dangerous. With the right government policy, small farmers have enormous potential to increase food production, improve their lifestyles and contribute to greater food security for all Pakistanis. The government’s wheat support price policy gives nothing to small farmers because they usually have little or very little grain to sell due to their small holdings; This policy is designed to facilitate large landowners. With the steep rise in the price of wheat, in fact, Pakistan has pushed the people towards a food price crisis. It is important that the government avoids the temptation to increase the minimum support price in future. The PML (N) government came to power with promises to control inflation, but rising food and fuel prices have been a challenge. The government should take necessary steps to control the ever-increasing prices of food items.