Inflation, pandemic pushing people into poverty in Pakistan

Islamabad: Pakistan’s economic condition has been reeling on the financial bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), forcing the Imran Khan-led government to increase prices of all basic commodities, triggering price hikes of commodities of basic necessities, and pushing the lives of people into misery and poverty.

Food price inflation has been on a consistent upsurge, escalating the pressure on lower-middle-income household budgets.

As per statistics, headline inflation in Pakistan may have fallen below 10 per cent in the previous few months; food inflation continues to stay in double digits.

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It should be noted that Pakistan is among those countries, where more than half of the income of a house, is spent on food. With the increase in cost of petrol, electricity units, transport, coupled with indirect taxes, the low-income families have plunged into further poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

As per estimations and statistics done by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics in 2019-20, the number of moderately to severely food-insecure households rose to at least 16.4 per 100 households, in comparison to at least 15.9 per 100 households the previous year.

The above-mentioned statistics reflects the impact of job losses, income reduction and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mandated economic policies, aimed at stabilising the country’s financial management, as the survey was carried out before the outbreak of Covid-19.

Moreover, with the outbreak of the pandemic, economic experts highlight that the miseries of the people have been compounded, as millions have gone out of work and have been plunged into poverty.

Experts believe that with the new wave of the novel coronavirus, coupled with the higher global community inflation and the upward adjustments in domestic energy prices, will further worsen the existing dire situation of the masses.

It has been maintained that the impact of the inflation will increase on food prices also as the global food prices have seen an at least 31 per cent higher in July than a year ago.

The purchasing power of the lower-middle-class families has already been severely impacted by the food price inflation. In the coming days ahead, the inflation numbers are expected to rise further, forecasting reduction in purchasing power and loss of jobs.

The Imran Khan-led government is also being criticised for failing to reduce the burden of spiking domestic food prices by tackling such local factors as supply disruptions and artificial shortages of staples that contribute to the hike in food prices in the country.

With Pakistan becoming the importer of key food items like wheat, edible oil, pulses and sugar, the probability of controlling increase in food inflation seems almost impossible for the government, making life even more worse for the poor.

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