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March 1, 2020

Ten questions

Opinion

March 1, 2020

First question: The Monthly Review on Price Indices by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) states that over the past 12 months the prices of ‘perishable food items’ have gone by a hefty 78 percent. Can the government please explain why the prices of perishable food items have gone up an unprecedented 78 percent?

Question 2: The prices of ‘perishable food items’ in rural areas have gone up by 90 percent. Can the government please explain why the prices of perishable food items have gone up by 90 percent in rural areas?

Question 3: The government allowed the export of 470,322 tons of wheat (July-Jan 2018-19). Now the government has decided to import 500,000 tons of wheat. Why? The government allowed the export of 276,000 tons of sugar (July-Jan 2018-19). Now the government has decided to import 300,000 tons of sugar. Why?

Question 4: When the PML-N left, the price of flour was Rs44 a kilogram. Our honourable Minister of National Food Security and Research Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar told us that there is ‘sufficient wheat stock to meet all our needs’. Why did the price of flour go up to Rs70 a kilogram?

Question 5: Fourteen months ago, the price of sugar stood at Rs53 a kilogram. The price has since jumped to Rs80 a kilogram, a 50 percent increase. Why has the price jumped from Rs53 a kilogram to Rs80 per kilogram in the past fourteen months?

Question 6: The PTI’s manifesto under chapter 3 promised to “alleviate poverty across Pakistan”. For the record, over the past year, around 8 million Pakistanis have dropped below the line of poverty. Can the government please explain why that has happened?

Question 7: The PTI’s manifesto under chapter 4 had pledged to “create 10 million jobs and strengthen the labor market”. Over the past year, around a million Pakistanis have lost their jobs. Can the government please explain why that has happened?

Question 8: Over the past six weeks, the OPEC basket price has dropped from $71 a barrel to $54 a barrel, a 24 percent decline. Will the price of petrol and diesel now come down by around Rs20 a liter?

Question 9: The PTI’s manifesto released in 2018 had promised to “depoliticize and strengthen police”. Has the process of depoliticizing and strengthening of the police begun? If not, why not?

Question 10: Other promises made in chapter 4 of the manifesto include ‘reforming FBR, fixing Pakistan’s energy challenge, transforming key economic institutions and reforming government procurement (chapter 2)’. Would the government please share the progress?

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @saleemfarrukh