Thursday April 18, 2024

Election campaigns face public ire over high inflation, utility bills

People have been facing a ‘famine-like situation’ due to skyrocketing prices of all eatable and non-eatable items

By Khalid Iqbal
January 20, 2024
Citizens are holding a protest demonstration against overbilling by electricity companies on August 25, 2023. — PPI Images
Citizens are holding a protest demonstration against overbilling by electricity companies on August 25, 2023. — PPI Images

Rawalpindi: The contesting candidates hailing from all political parties have been facing the worst kind of public criticism and resistance during door-to-door election campaigns here in all constituencies of Rawalpindi citing high inflation as the major reason for their troubles.

People have been facing a ‘famine-like situation’ due to skyrocketing prices of all eatable and non-eatable items while government functionaries and local leadership have the public in the lurch. Inflation has jumped to almost 42 per cent, the highest annual rise in record prices driven mainly by skyrocketing costs of food, electricity, beverage, transport, and many others but in return, nobody is even ready to console poor people in this famine-like situation.

Keeping in view this situation majority of contesting candidates are avoiding door-to-door election campaigns due to public criticism. Reportedly, in some constituencies, voters even used abusive language against contesting candidates.

The poor citizens are already feeling the brunt of such high inflation, which has become unrelenting on the back of a messy cocktail of factors like political instability, years of financial mismanagement, and the rupee’s depreciation, as the government scrambled to meet IMF conditions to unlock a desperately needed bailout.

‘The News’ conducted a market survey where 1-kilogram onion is being sold at Rs270 to Rs300, tomato is being sold at Rs180 to Rs200 per kilogram, potato is being sold at Rs80 to Rs100 per kilogram, ginger is being sold at Rs600 per kilogram and garlic is being sold at Rs500 per kilogram. All vegetables are selling at skyrocketing prices, some vegetables named ‘Mongry’ are being sold at Rs280 per kilogram and peas are being sold at Rs270 per kilogram.

The chicken meat is being sold at the price of ‘gold’ at Rs750 per kilogram. And eggs are being sold at Rs370 to Rs400 per dozen. Similarly, mutton is being sold at Rs2200 to Rs2500 and beef at Rs1100 to Rs1250 per kilogram.

Packed and non-packed milk is being sold at skyrocketing prices from Rs200 to Rs300 per litre. The ‘Roti’ was common at the time selling at higher prices of Rs20 and a ‘Naan’ at Rs25 to Rs30.

Buying ‘Atta’ is not child’s play now because a 15-kilogram bag of flour is selling at Rs2250 to Rs2500 while 1-kilogram sugar is being sold at Rs145, ghee at Rs510, and all kinds of pulses are being sold at exorbitant prices means a common man has completely failed to purchase even pulses. The rice is being sold at skyrocketing prices of Rs425 per kilogram.

All other necessary items like washing powder, shoe polish, soap, toothpaste, dish wash, matches, red chili, salt, dry milk, porridge, ketchup, and several other items were selling at exorbitant prices.

From November 1, 2023, the caretaker government notified a substantial hike of 194 per cent in natural gas prices. In addition, consumers will also witness an unprecedented surge in fixed monthly gas charges, up to 3900 per cent for protected and non-protected consumers. The caretaker government not only increased gas tariffs but electricity tariffs too which has broken the back of the common man completely.

But neither government functionaries nor political leadership came near to the public to resolve their issues. Now, political leadership has added fuel to the fire by visiting different localities to beg for votes.

‘The News’ interviewed different people who protested against unaffordable inflation in the country and demanded a cut down in the prices of essentials.

Nisar Ahmed, a resident of Mukha Sing Estate said how people will afford this inflation and high utility bills but the government was not feeling any kind of shame. The so-called government was continuously increasing the rates of gas, electricity, and all food items, he bemoaned.

Sarfraz Ahmed, another local said that people needed a strong democratic setup in the country. No doubt, an elected government will resolve all public-related issues otherwise people will face more and more crises even after elections, he warned.

Norin Bashir, a housewife said that the majority of people wanted general elections but they were tense due to the present situation. People were dying due to ever-increasing inflation but nobody came here to console them, she said. How a common man was spending his life, nobody knows, she said.