Food and non-food item prices are increasing at a rapid pace since the government eased the strict lockdown restrictions last year.

With almost zero growth in income, a common citizen’s life is becoming difficult with each passing day, as the trickle-down effect of government policies, which authorities claim have put the economy on path of recovery, is yet to reach the lower income group.

“The purchasing power of citizens has been adversely affected in the last two years,” trader Nadeem Ashraf, who deals in electronic items, told The Express Tribune.

He said that earlier people looked for products based on quality but now many asked for less pricey goods.

He added that lockdowns disrupted the supply chains, due to which products like air conditioners were now at least 60% more costly than in the previous year, while prices of other electronic goods such as laptops were also on the rise.

Non-food items have their own supply chains, which were disrupted due to curbs on imports, global lockdowns, increasing prices of imported raw material, higher import duties and a high cost of doing business due to rising energy prices.

The Consumer Price Index (CPl), which calculates inflation rate in Pakistan, went up to 8.7% in February 2021 as compared to 5.7% in January.

Elaborating, Islamabad-based trader Kashif Chaudhry said that inflation figures did not matter to the common man as their life was getting tougher due to surging prices of food items, which was exacerbated by mismanagement on the part of government.

He acknowledged that there were certain factors that were beyond ones control and were linked with global price mechanisms or allied issues, but the food inflation and scarcity of essential food items in Pakistan such as wheat, sugar and vegetables was primarily due to poor governance.

Economist Qais Aslam was of the view that industrialisation was the only solution for the country, which could equally limit unemployment and control inflation in the long run.

“Many say that government’s job is not to create jobs, I believe that the private sector cannot create employment, they can only generate profit for themselves,” he said.

“Our labour class is largely uneducated and this is the class which needs to be empowered, they cannot grow in private sector’s automation, only the government can create opportunities for them.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2021.

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