APROPOS the article ‘Destroying livelihoods’ (Feb 11). Pakistan is heading toward serious economic challenges that will have repercussions for the most vulnerable segments of the population.

Inflation has increased by 14.5 per cent with food inflation registering an astonishing 25pc rise. The steep rise in staple food prices has severely affected millions of poor households.

Independent economists say this has happened because the agriculture and manufacturing sectors have taken a beating after tough austerity measures and a severe tax regime.

Businesses are shutting down by the dozens leading to increasing unemployment and massive under-employment and deteriorating purchasing power of the people leading to shrinking of the country’s gross domestic product.

Understood that the IMF has imposed stringent conditions with its loan disbursement but this doesn’t mean that the government should resort to adopting measures that are throttling an already fragile economy.

After a hue and cry was raised by the opposition and the plight of the poor highlighted by the media, the government has announced a subsidy package for staple food. However, this is likely to be a temporary relief. What is needed is business-friendly policies plus a plan to kick-start the industrial sector.

Qaiser Rizwan Abbasi

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2020