Bitter notes

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LAHORE: The year 2021 has been a year of misery and disappointment for the Pakistani people, and would haunt them for years with little hope that 2022 will be any better.

The excellent management of Covid-19 by the current regime has been undone by its subsequent loss of summons. There has been an increase in economic activity, but this has been accompanied by difficulties for the common man.

The increase in productivity has not been accompanied by new jobs. The increase in taxes

was mainly due to a massive drop in the value of the rupee and an equally huge increase in imports.

A decent increase in exports eclipsed compared to the double increase in imports. The low interest rate was short-lived and the policy rate is currently only 250 basis points from a double-digit rate.

Hopes of containing inflation have been dashed and we would be lucky if we ended the year at 10 percent inflation. The unemployment rate has risen, and remittances for the first time in three years have shown signs of dropping last month.

The price increases have continued unabated. Some increases were due to the high cost of production, as the devalued rupee increased the costs of imported raw materials and finished products. The increase in the minimum wage was not really implemented, but it increased the cost as productivity remained low.

Food inflation has remained well above general inflation. The rates of imported and locally produced edibles increased with almost the same percentage. In fact, the increase in locally produced products like milk, sugar and wheat was in line or higher compared to the increase in imported edibles like edible oil or some legumes. Mutton, beef and chicken have reached their historic highs.

On the non-food side, the electricity price has been increased like never before. Gas prices have also increased, LPG has become beyond the reach of the poor. Most of them resorted to burning wood by collecting bushes or even cutting down trees.

This goes against the spirit of Green Pakistan so dear to the Prime Minister’s heart. Oil prices are constantly increasing. If the rupee continued to fall, the tariff increase would be greater than the increase of Rs 4 per liter per month promised with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The share of industry in our GDP has decreased this year, which negates the claims of a resumption of industrialization in the country.

The textile sector was the shining star in 2021, but its progress has been hampered by gas shortages and the government’s inability to provide a sustained and stable power supply to exporters.

Traders warned that exports would decline after December as foreign buyers stopped placing new orders due to the country’s electricity and energy crisis.

Likewise, national industries serving the needs of local consumers are in tatters. Rising costs due to the devalued rupee, high inflation, high bank margin and institutional corruption have eroded the competitiveness of local products.

An extraordinary increase in imports is not limited to machinery or petroleum, but is also due to the importation of many finished products which compete with locally produced goods because their operating cost is low.

The decline in industrial employment is due to the influx of imported items into the country. One industry that flourished without state aid was electronic commerce. All major textile stores sell most of their clothing and fabrics online.

They have developed a reliable and fast delivery system. Non-textile suppliers have also started taking and processing orders online.

Many grocery suppliers also stepped in. Small retailers have started to feel the pinch in online sales of almost all items.

And that’s not limited to big cities. Textile product suppliers even operate in remote areas and have won the trust of e-consumers. E-commerce has created more jobs in a year than industry. The network of delivery men and couriers is widespread throughout the country.

On the other hand, the agricultural sector has experienced too many problems. Pakistani farmers end the year on a bitter note. There is a severe shortage of urea in the country as fertilizer factories have been denied gas, which is the basic raw material for making urea.

Farmers need urea when sowing wheat. A urea shortage means wheat planting has been excessively delayed. The best time to sow wheat is until November 15th. After that, the production of wheat decreases every day and its sowing is delayed.

The government has managed the management of Covid-19 better, but otherwise health services have deteriorated. Drug prices have increased due to the devaluation of the rupee as well as supply chain constraints.

The budget for the purchase of drugs in public hospitals and clinics has not been increased. Poor patients now have to buy drugs even when they are treated in the emergency department. The prices of many life-saving drugs have doubled or tripled.

Education has suffered a lot this year. Private schools were successful in delivering education via the Internet, but public school students did not have that luxury as most public schools did not take online classes, and where they did, poor students lacked access to education. computer or Internet connection.


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