The federal government has failed to check the prices of essential commodities and its mandate is limited to merely finding the reasons for the surge in prices and urging provinces to control inflation.
After witnessing a double-digit increase in prices of food items, a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) was held where federal ministers and chief secretaries talked more about skyrocketing prices rather than finding any viable solutions.
The prices of essential food items have shot up due to increased profiteering owing to weak governance coupled with climatic changes that have damaged crops. The government had failed to take any credible action against these profiteers and hoarders causing artificial price hikes. This situation has been worsened by low growth and high inflation.
The price of food items has affected middle, lower-middle and poor income groups. Food inflation for the first week of October was recorded at 11.3 percent and prices of tomatoes, potatoes, onions and pulses have increased manifold. Yet the federal food ministry does not any demand and supply monitoring mechanism and cannot act beyond passing instructions to provincial governments.
The PTI government has been in power for more than two years but had been unable to contain inflation. The provincial secretaries have contested the assertion that inflation was rising in cities while the food ministry has called it a seasonal hike. Rather than accepting their misgivings, the price increase is blamed on climate change, rising international prices and increased profit margin of wholesalers and retailers.
The government’s manhandling of wheat production had caused up to 50 percent in prices and no one had been held responsible. We have gone from a wheat exporting nation to importing the basic staple. We have also missed the cotton production target and are reliant on the private sector to fulfill the gap.
The prime minister finally took notice and said that action will be taken against hoarders and profiteers. However, the solution given was rather disappointing as the prime minister suggested empowering the Tiger Force to keep a check on prices in markets which is highly questionable. It is necessary that the promises are kept and people are given some much need relief and the failure lies with the government.