July 21, 2019

The incessant rise in inflation has forced people to make choices, and forgo certain things to afford others


There is no end to what one can wish for but the resources required to meet one’s desires are always limited. The truism is the basic concept in economics. Regardless of the riches people might have at their disposal, they can never have everything they might. That is why one has to make choices, quite often difficult choices and forgo certain things to afford others.

In stressful times the choices become more stark and the premium on innovation soars. This is something the people of Pakistan are quite familiar with. The incessant rise in inflation has increased the cost of living and reduced disposable incomes. The latest spate of price hike following the drastic depreciation of rupee against major currencies and the introduction of new tax regime have worsened the situation. The challenge is to survive on vastly shrinking resources while surrendering as little as possible.

This special report is about how people are coping at various levels. It looks at how businesses are struggling to remain competitive, households cutting on expenses and individuals sharing spaces and resources to divide financial burden. It also shows how the marginalised are pushed to the wall and the scarce breather available in the form of social safety nets.

Barring some instances of laying off of workers by struggling businesses and outsourcing of work to informal sector, these are stories of great resilience and a practical demonstration of the adage "where there’s a will there’s a way." You see the common man moving from one room to the other switching off electrical appliances to save on monthly electricity bills, buying groceries to stock when prices ebb and planning multipurpose rides to avoid repeat visits to the same destinations.

Technology is increasingly an enabling tool to avoid non-essential travel among other inefficiencies.

Also read: Coping with Inflation

While these are examples mostly of contingency measures, they speak of Pakistani people’s ability to innovate and adapt to changing conditions, no matter how bad these are. Many of these are prudent measures we should adopt for good because they can help us save and bring efficiency in our lives. One cannot resist the suggestion that it is also high time the government leaders strive to be equally innovative to save the masses from even worse and rescue those pushed to the wall. This is not a favour to dispense but a government’s responsibility to the citizens and the state.