PPP rejects serial gas hikes: Sherry Rehman

Islamabad: PPP’s Parliamentary Leader in Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman has said that after introducing a budget that completely ignores the 99% of Pakistan, the government had once again unleashed a storm in the form of a 191% hike in the price of gas.

Since this government took over 10 months ago, Pakistan has been hit by six price hikes of natural gas but looks like the government is not done slashing and burning people’s livelihoods, with no plans for mitigation of the devastation coming our way from this storm of daily price rises, she said in a statement.

Rehman added, “The crisis of confidence in the country is acute right now, and exposes sharply the government’s political policy failure. Every other week, tariffs are imposed on essential commodities like gas, petrol and power which have a domino effect on the economy. The latest gas revision will make everything more expensive from fertilizers to cement and even the cost of running a tandoor. Farmers, business community and salaried classes, all are struggling to keep up with the government’s pace of slapping taxes. The inflationary cycle has led to costs of living multiply unabatedly. Yet there’s no discussion on how ordinary Pakistanis who are losing their livelihoods will survive after this slash and burn”.

“The business community is already struggling. The imposition of 17 percent GST following withdrawal of zero-rated regime is crippling trade due to soaring costs of production. The decision is expected to cause a 20-30 percent decline in exports. Due to the ill-thought-out policies of this government, our balance of payments will be adversely affected,” she said.

The Senator added, “A hike of Rs. 22/KG in CNG prices is next up in line which denotes a 31% hike for Sindh, KP and Balochistan. Pakistan’s CNG industry, which is worth Rs. 450 billion, will get severely hit by this increase and that will reflect in the country’s output. The rising transportation costs would compel the poor to walk the streets. How will thousands of rickshaw and taxi drivers in the country make their ends meet then? Instead of providing those 10 million jobs it promised the government is busy snatching people’s sources of income”.

“This is a directionless government and people are beginning to see that. The Prime Minister takes notice of soaring prices but they continue to increase. Clearly, the government is not in control and the shots are being called by IMF. Let us not forget, this is neither Pakistan’s first IMF program nor the first time the country’s facing economic challenges. Pakistan has run 22 IMF programs before with some being completed successfully but such a relinquishing of sovereign protections for the population is unprecedented. The government has made no effort to navigate the difficult path between fiscal and crisis management, rupee-induced debt and impoverishment. Does it expect the IMF to hold its hand and get it done? As a result of its flawed governance, millions risk falling below the poverty line with a no-filter ruthless structural adjustment,” she said.

“It appears that the government is making people suffer for its failed amnesty scheme which didn’t live up to the hype. Pakistan’s poor and middle class is slipping into destitution due to exponential rise in prices but there is no charter for social protection or development from the government. The government views accountability as a substitute for an economic policy however, those are two separate things,” the PPP Vice President concluded.