Editorial: Food, Inflation and Promises
The good news is the price of oil in the international market is coming down. Since January a fall of 16 dollars per barrel was reported by the media -a 23 percent drop is a significant fall.
The bad news is that the government will not be passing on this benefit to the public and reduce the price of petrol. Instead, it feels better off reducing a few rupees and paisa on daals, cooking oil and other food items. This would ensure that the government collects enough revenue to continue its Mughal style of governance while the public groans under double-digit inflation. The cost of food in Pakistan increased by 19.30 percent in January of 2020 compared to last January.
According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), inflation and food prices are twelve years high. Food inflation in urban areas rose by 19.5pc in January on a yearly basis and 2.7 percent on a monthly basis whereas it increased by 23.8 and 3.4 percent respectively, in rural areas.
Food inflation flies in the face of the political elite who during their election campaign stated that rising food prices depicted corruption and bad governance. The people believed them and voted them in power to face the worst pinches of inflation.
Food inflation can be controlled by providing better incentives to farmers and linking farms to people’s market and eliminating the profit-making middle man.
Rise in the prices of petrol and diesel are factors that play a major role besides the incompetence of the district government. The government should have regulatory mechanism to keep a sharp eye on basic food items. The PM has promised to check food inflation and his team claims that by end of February people will feel the change. Will this promise be broken like the others, only time will tell.