THE government, regardless of which party is heading it at any point in time, increases petrol prices every now and then, claiming to have taken drastic measures to control the economic situation as advised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Despite the fact that successive governments vehemently claim that they have come to serve the people, particularly the underprivileged, the claims have always proved to be useless and hollow political statements.

No matter which party the government belongs to, it is the middle and lower classes that always face and bear the brunt of the rising prices of petroleum products, while the elite do not care much about the exorbitant petrol prices. They are least bothered if the price of petroleum products is Rs100 per litre or Rs1,000.

At present, every senior government official is entitled to have free petrol. Who foots the bill? The national exchequer, of course. In such a situation, when the ruling class is getting facilities and privileges for free, how can they understand the sufferings and difficulties of the common man?

Simultaneously, when the working class is spending most of its earnings on petrol, the privileged class, especially those working in the public sector, are enjoying free petrol and making a living off the poor.

The story does not end here. The government employees, members of parliament and cabinet ministers not only receive free petrol, but also free electricity and telephone units.

Not only this, the families of the elite also get facilities like free air and rail travel, which is nothing but a cruel joke on the underprivileged segments of a poor and indebted country.

There are reports the government is considering more than one holiday a week to minimise petrol consumption. The public is also being advised to reduce the use of petrol by avoiding unnecessary commute.

But before advising the public, it would be better for the government to try to reduce the import bill by stopping free petrol to its employees and the ruling class.

M. Shamail Anwar
Karachi

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2022

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