Thursday August 11, 2022

Inflation and poverty

By Editorial Board
November 29, 2021

Downplaying the crisis of inflation and poverty that the people of Pakistan are facing is not going to help. And one hopes this government’s ministers and advisers would remember that before talking about these matters. For example, advisor to the PM Shaukat Tarin saying that the incidence of poverty has dropped to 4.2 percent from 5.4 percent a year ago while also highlighting that the problem of ‘inflation which has affected the lower middle class in urban areas the worst’ ends up trivialising the problems facing the people at the moment. The fact is that no number of motorcycles sold will help ease the very real financial anxieties people are going through at the moment. There appears to be a clear disconnect between what government representatives think and what is happening in the country.

First, let’s take the World Bank figures which at various times have given us wonderful news that ultimately turns out to be a fantasy. The failure of numerous World Bank funded projects in Pakistan and in many other countries belie the good news it tries to give us every now and then. And even then, just one percent reduction in poverty is negligible keeping in view the increasing inflation and surging population in the country. It is not only the urban middle class that is faring the worst; the impact of inflation is widespread across all segments of society and no wordplay can hide this ugly reality.

And, once again, record sale of motorcycles cannot substantiate a claim to prosperity. Nor can mentioning ‘restaurants full of people’ and ‘expensive cars’ – as if these are sure signs of reduced poverty. If anything, they can only reinforce the rapidly widening gap between the haves and have-nots. What the top office holders in the government need to do is to have a quick reality check on the streets and in communities both in rural and urban areas. It may then dawn on them that the situation of this country’s people is getting grimmer by the day. Depleting livelihood opportunities, declining incomes, and surging inflation are the scourge of the moment – and are real and painful triggers. If the decision-makers prefer to not notice and do something about it, maybe they could at the very least not rub salt in our wounds by blurting whatever fanciful suppositions they make on our behalf?