Let them eat cake: As high food prices punch the common people, Pakistan media lambasts the government

It is no secret now that living in Pakistan is becoming a challenge for the lower and middle income groups, especially with the spiralling cost of living, triggered by the rising price of food.

Meeting the family budget every month is becoming a challenge for most Pakistani households with food prices witnessing an unbridled spike every week.

Though inflation on paper may have eased in recent times, the cost of living and food prices are robbing the peace of mind as they are still not within the reach of the common masses despite pledges by government and political parties in the past.

In an Editorial published in The News International titled ‘Let them all eat cake?’, obviously drawn from the famous flippant remark by queen Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution in response to being told that the French people could not afford bread, the leading Pakistani daily said: “That the cost of living in Pakistan is crippling the already struggling lower class and the middle classes doesn’t seem to be much of a concern for our ruling elite, who are busy living their cocooned lives without taking any austerity measures while regular citizens bear the brunt of their economic policies.”

The newspaper blamed the government for burdening the public with taxes.

In its latest budget, the government only overburdened and pressurised the community with more taxes despite the section of the public being taxpayers, it said.

The government could have brought the non-taxpayers under the net of tax-paying and worked with provinces on agriculture tax and property tax, said the Editorial, adding that “instead of taking these steps, the government took the much easier path of adding more tax load on the salaried class.”

In the editorial The News International painted a rather grim picture when it said: “So where’s the relief for the common people? Well, none is coming. The government needs money to give relief to the people and money can only be raised through taxes. But just one example highlights the mess our taxation policy is.”

“The government has to realize that the cost of living crisis is now almost unmanageable for many people who are now struggling to survive,” the newspaper said.

The Editorial further said fiscal policy adjustments, monetary measures to control price surges, and targeted support for the most vulnerable populations are the steps that could be taken by the Pakistani government to give relief to the struggling people of the nation which is witnessing protests in different corners right now. Things would worsen if  obstacles are not mitigated now, it said.

Pakistan’s another leading daily Dawn News wrote in its Editorial: “The majority of consumers here have been struggling to survive a consistent spike in the cost of living, especially with regard to food, for over two years now.” 

The Editorial pointed out that Pakistan cannot hope to grow its economy and exports sustainably without a major boost to agricultural productivity and rural incomes. 

“It is not incorrect to say that the agricultural economy, which employs almost 60pc of Pakistan’s workforce and significantly contributes to GDP, is at a turning point. The sector’s enormous potential remains unexplored,” the Editorial said.

The daily said corporate investments in agriculture will be hard to attract unless the political leadership and policymakers seize the opportunity through focusing on substantive policy changes and infrastructure development. 

According to another report in Dawn this month, unbridled food exports force domestic consumers to pay record prices for essential items.

Quoting data compiled by the Trade Deve­lopment Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Dawn reported that the value of raw food exports reached $8 billion in 2023-24, up from $5.8bn over the corresponding period last year, 

“As a result, consumers across the country are paying higher prices for food items because of supply and demand gaps. Raw food exports have climbed for 11 consecutive months in the outgoing fiscal year despite the highest food inflation in history,” it said.
The present Pakistani government was elected to power in February but so far no steps have been taken by it to reduce the burden on the public.

If Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif government wants to win hearts and brighten its chances of returning to power in future then the challenge of rising food prices should be handled with extreme care. 


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