Islamabad:There has been a drop in the wage growth rate of many areas of occupation, making it harder for non-fixed income earners like labourers, construction workers, and rickshaw pullers, etc. to...
Islamabad:There has been a drop in the wage growth rate of many areas of occupation, making it harder for non-fixed income earners like labourers, construction workers, and rickshaw pullers, etc. to make both ends meet.
At the markets, the price of everyday essentials stuns the people. The prices of food and non-food items have been shooting through the stratosphere in recent months.“I have made major compromises in the living standard of my family to survive the price hike of food and transport. Still, I am finding it increasingly hard to pay for the meal we used to have before,” says Shazia Hussain, a sales representative of a pharmaceutical company.
To be able to send his daughter to a school while having decent meals on the table, Shazia Hussain is thinking about taking up a part-time job. Not everyone has been so lucky. “The high inflation has caused an unprecedented decline in the real income of working-class people, as the wage growth rate has been lagging far behind the growth rate of prices of everyday essentials,” says Atta Fatima.
Nemat Ali, a rickshaw-puller, is finding it difficult, even impossible to meet the cost of living. “I have to spend on the fuel for rickshaw nearly twice as much as I did a few years ago,” he says.
It is also important to note that, unlike the last decade, most of the working and middle-class families have more than one wage-earning member now. However, there has been no decrease in their cost of living due to an upsurge in the prices of daily essentials.
Although the prices of everything ranging from food to transportation to house rent soared alarmingly during the last couple of months, the trend has been consistent for two years.Asked to justify the rise of food prices, wholesalers and retailers give different, and at times conflicting, reasons. “The cost of transportation of goods is now higher than any time in the past,” says Faizul Hasan, a wholesaler who deals in vegetables in sabzi mandi. “The rising labour costs are also partly responsible for the price hike,” he adds.
The retailers, in turn, blame it on the wholesalers and importers of food items. “Customers think that we make a huge profit from the business and keep bargaining. They fail to see that we are as vulnerable to wholesalers’ prices as they are,” says Jafar, who sells fruits and vegetables near Khanna Bridge. He also asserts that he makes a nominal profit and has no control over the price of products he sells.
Farman Ali says, “It is difficult to explain the inflation with regular economic reasoning only. The government’s lack of control over the market is also responsible for it. Large cartels also create an artificial food scarcity through speculative trading.”