ISLAMABAD: Slamming the government over back-to-back price hikes, the Pakistan Peoples Party on Friday regretted that the government had increased electricity tariff up to 40 per cent over the last three years, with latest increase of Rs1.68 per unit that the federal cabinet has approved.
“Is anyone tearing electricity bills up in public meetings now?” asked PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman in an indirect reference to the demonstrations staged in the past by then opposition lawmaker Imran Khan in which electricity bills were torn up or torched in public to protest against hike in power tariff.
“Moreover, since the last price hike two weeks ago, now there’s news that Ogra has suggested increasing the price of petrol by Rs5.90 per litre, and diesel by Rs9.75 per litre from October 16. In the last three years, Rs30 increase has been seen in per litre of petrol prices. Does ‘PTIMF’ even realise the impact of these back-to-back price hike bombs on people?” the PPP leader asked.
Senator laments govt has never taken parliament into confidence over IMF deal
She said the inflation rate stood at nine per cent. Wheat that was Rs740 for 20kg in the past was being sold at Rs1,150, while sugar was being sold at Rs110 per kg when it was actually Rs60 per kg, she said, adding that all this combined with inflation and unemployment was making life extremely difficult for the common man.
“Since August 2018, rupee has seen a devaluation of 40 per cent as PKR has been devalued by Rs49 since 2018. Three years of the government has brought our economy to the ventilator. Is this what the PM meant when he said that inflation is temporary and that they are going to reduce it?” Senator Rehman asked.
Discussing the meeting with the IMF, she said it was very difficult to have any confidence in the Imran-led government when debt had been raking up and had more than doubled since PPP’s time to a whopping Rs39.9 trillion.
Despite existing high prices of commodities, she said, the IMF conditions to increase electricity tariff and taxes seemed to have been accepted by the government.
“We have also gone to the IMF but have been transparent about it. PPP’s terms were always clear; we did not drive millions into poverty, homelessness and joblessness in the name of stabilisation goals,” she said.
The PPP senator said the present government never took parliament into confidence over its agreement with the IMF that only resulted in “a tsunami of unbearable utility and food staple price hikes”.
Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2021