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Friday August 12, 2022

Real issues

December 27, 2020

Non-issue number 1: Will the MNAs, MPAs and senators belonging to the PPP tender their resignations? Non-issue number 2: Will the PDM undertake a ‘long march’ towards Islamabad? Non-issue number 3: Will the PDM stay united?

Real issue number 1: In about two years, the price of flour has gone up from Rs35 per kg to Rs70 per kg. To be certain, a hundred percent increase in the price of flour over a two-year period has never ever happened in our 73-year economic history. This 100 percent rise cannot be termed ‘inflation’. This is either gross supply-chain mismanagement or corruption or both.

For the record, each Pakistani on average consumes 115 kg of flour per year for a total of 26 million tons. Collectively, 220 million Pakistanis used to buy their flour requirement for Rs850 billion but this year they had to cough out Rs1,800 billion. The real issue is: Where did the additional Rs950 billion go? The real issue is: Who made Rs950 billion? The real question is: Has anyone been arrested?

Real issue number 2: In about two years, the price of sugar has gone up from Rs55 per kg to Rs90 per kg. To be certain, a 60 percent increase in the price of sugar over a two-year period has never ever happened in our 73-year economic history. This 60 percent rise cannot be termed ‘inflation’. This is either gross supply-chain mismanagement or corruption or both.

For the record, each Pakistani on average consumes 25 kg of sugar per year for a total of 5.6 million tons. Collectively, 220 million Pakistanis used to buy their sugar requirement for Rs300 billion but this year they had to cough out Rs500 billion. The real issue is: Where did the additional Rs200 billion go? The real issue is: Who made Rs200 billion? The real question is: Has anyone been arrested?

Real issue number 3: In about two years, the price of electricity (inclusive of all taxes) has gone up from Rs11 per unit to Rs25 per unit. To be certain, such a massive increase has never ever happened in our 73-year economic history. To be fair, PPAs (power purchase agreements) were signed by the PML-N government and the PTI government cannot be held responsible for the exorbitantly high price contracted. But, the circular debt has gone from Rs1,100 billion in August 2018 to Rs2,400 billion and around Rs250 billion worth of electricity is still being stolen. No reforms whatsoever.

Real issue number 4: Public Sector Enterprises continue to be a burden – Rs1,800 billion a year, every year. Real issue number 5: A couple of billion dollars worth of natural gas is stolen a year, every year. Real issue number 6: PASSCO loses a hundred billion a year, every year. Real issue number 7: Public debt is rising faster than ever before. Real issue number 8: Per capita income is declining like never before.

The opposition’s only goal is: to bring down the PTI government. Lo and behold, the PTI government’s only goal is: to crush the opposition. The real goal – both for the government and the opposition – should be unconditional political reconciliation in order to solve Pakistan’s real issues. At this point in time, the mother of all issues is: Where will Pakistan be in two and a half years if the PTI fails to mend its ways and correct its course?

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com Twitter: @saleemfarrukh

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