Wednesday April 17, 2024

Pro-elite bias

By Mansoor Ahmad
February 09, 2023

LAHORE: Usually the privileged sectors are facilitated by the government, but the poor and under privileged are paid lip service as they look towards the state for assistance.

There are numerous instances where the influential cover up their losses through government assistance, while the poor continue to suffer under similar circumstances. The frequent subsidies paid in the recent past for sugar exports have been exposed by the media that has put a stop to this practice for the time being.

Subsidy on fertilisers is provided to the fertiliser companies instead of giving it directly to the farmers with the result that farmers end up buying fertilisers from the black market through agents of fertiliser companies that probably retain the subsidy.

Power subsidy on paper is provided to the poor who use up to 300 units supplied through single phase meters. But major beneficiaries are the affluent politicians who have installed 10-24 single phase meters in their premises.

They ensure through their servants that none of the meters exceeds the 300 unit limit. Such consumers save millions in power tariff yearly through this practice.

Small and medium industries are the backbone of any economy. Still they are being discriminated against in the provision of power and energy, while the large scale manufacturers are accommodated. Duration of load shedding is higher in rural areas than big cities.

Load shedding in fact is almost zero in Islamabad and in official residences elsewhere in the country. Even the posh localities in all cities are spared load shedding, while it increases as the economic status of the locality diminishes.

The argument put forward is that load-shedding is higher in localities where power theft is high. This is an absurd reason as even after identifying high theft localities the state failed to reduce theft.

Moreover those having 4-24 single phase meters in posh localities are also cheating the state by paying highly subsidised tariffs.

We encounter dilapidated roads and overflowing gutters in poor localities and well-kept roads and fully maintained parks in posh localities.

Government schools established in affluent societies like Model Town in Lahore impart better education and sports facilities, while state run schools near slums lack even proper benches for the students.

All missing facilities like absence of toilets would only be found in these schools. The larger government hospitals are equipped with most modern health gadgets. These facilities are rarely available to the poor, but are fully operational whenever a VIP is admitted for treatment.

These double standards are maintained from the state exchequer. Even in residential colonies of government servants, the residence meant for gazette officers are fully maintained, while those of clerks remain in shambles. It is because of these double standards that we are seeing anarchy in society.