LAHORE, April 1: The latest increase in the prices of petroleum products and persistent outages have unnerved many PPP leaders at Punjab level as they have come clean on the fear of a possible setback in the next general election.
PPP central Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira, however, speaks the official line: “Despite knowing the impact of the decision on his party in the future elections, it has opted for it with a heavy heart as there was no other option.”
The general perception is that the government is banking on excessive currency printing and increasing POL prices to generate revenue.
A number of PPP office-bearers and provincial legislators Dawn spoke to on Sunday shared the worry that their government’s decision to go for ‘phenomenal’ increase in POL prices and failure to take measures to end loadshedding could cost dear.
“Earlier, the people of my constituency were criticising the higher leadership for loadshedding, inflation and price spiral but now they have started targeting me as well,” an upset PPP legislator said and added he was avoiding visiting his constituency.
“How will we go into the 2013 general election with this package,” asked another MPA from south Punjab. He said his government should have taken its legislators into confidence before taking the ‘unpopular’ decision.
A PPP legislator wondered why “his party is not interested in winning the next election. I still cannot figure out as how we will face the public in the face of these anti-people decisions,” he said, predicting that in such a scenario the PPP might be wiped out from Punjab.
There is also a word in the PPP circles that the government is planning to announce ‘relief’ for the masses in June’s budget. “Once the issues of power outages and price hike settle a bit, the government will consider going for the election. You see the people have short memory,” he argued.
Qamar Zaman Kaira, while speaking to Dawn, stated that no government wanted to take unpopular decisions. “We may not survive if we do not pass on the global impact of the POL price increase to the masses,” he said. And knowing the impact of the decision on the PPP, he said, the government did not go for more loans or printing currency as an alternative.
Mr Kaira further said the federal government had no cushion to give any more subsidy on electricity and POL products since it had given substantial share to the provinces under the NFC award. “We have taken difficult decisions for our party but not for the country. Pakistan’s survival hinges on its economy therefore we cannot go for popular decisions,” he added.