Senior economist says electricity has almost become unaffordable in Pakistan for the common man.
Speaking on Naya Daur TV’s flagship show ‘Khabar Say Aagay (Beyond the Headlines)’, Fahd Ali, who teaches Economy at Information Technology University, Lahore, said that whatever relief the caretaker government provides right now will only backfire because that would mean they’d have to raise the tariff again in a month or two.
“The deals we’ve done with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have forced us to increase the tariff. It’s true that the caretaker government, although unelected, is under pressure to give some relief to the people. But with another IMF review scheduled in September, it will be impossible for them to do anything that displeases the Fund at this point.”
Fahd added that during her first meeting with the IMF team last week, caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar has assured the Fund that her government will continue the policies devised by its predecessor. “That means the interest rate will continue to rise, exchange rate will be determined by the market, no subsidies will be given on petroleum, electricity and gas, and the electricity shortfall will also have to be covered by passing on the burden to the consumers. Under these circumstances, no relief is possible”, Fahd said.
Commenting on the protests sparked by the rise in electricity tariff, senior journalist Mubasher Bukhari said that the protesters were leaderless and it could have devastating repercussions for democracy.
Bukhari believes that it is an ideal situation for the extremist groups to exploit. It has become impossible for the middle-class to keep up with the rising prices, he says.
“The crisis is too big for the political class to deal with. The crime rate in big cities has surged past all previous records; we’re fortunate that no group so far has tried to exploit the situation for its political purposes but this is bound to happen,” Bukhari added.
The show is hosted by Raza Rumi, Monday-Saturday 9 PM, only on Naya Daur TV.