Is the caretaker government in a position to provide relief to the people?

Is the caretaker government in a position to provide relief to the people?

Akram lives in a rented house in Karachi. He has done MA in Economics and works in a private company. His salary is 30 thousand rupees and this month the electricity bill is 22 thousand rupees.

He is responsible for four children, a wife and elderly parents. The house rent has not been paid for three months and the children have also been removed from school. Akram says that he had thought that after the departure of the PDM government, there would be competent economists in the caretaker government, who would take care of the people, control inflation and increase employment opportunities.

‘But the situation has worsened since the caretaker government came in. After paying the electricity bill this month, there is no money left for ration. Borrowed ration from the shop.’

Akram thinks that if this is the situation in the early days of this government, then when this government ends, the situation will be even worse. He says, ‘In the last 15 days, my purchasing power has reduced so much that it has not happened in the last one year and the caretaker government is responsible for this.’

Akram’s opinion is respected. Independent Urdu has tried to find out whether the caretaker government is in a position to provide relief to the people and how much margin it has to provide relief.

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In this regard, General Secretary of Currency Exchange Association of Pakistan Zafar Paracha told Independent Urdu that ‘if the caretaker government has the margin to increase the rates of dollar, electricity and petrol, then there is also the margin to reduce them.

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“The government has emergency funds from which relief can be given. When it comes to the public, they go to the IMF and when it comes to personal expenses and privileges, they don’t go to the IMF. The President has demanded an increase in salary twice. It is hypocrisy for which the people are being punished.

He added that the increase in the dollar rate is also a big problem. Today the interbank and gray market spread is around Rs 35 but it is up to the caretaker government to control it. They say that the government has no mandate. The question is whether they have the mandate to stop the smuggling of dollars across the borders but may not want to control it. Also, the claim of no mandate is false. The PDM government has given them a lot of mandate.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Progressive Group President Khalid Usman says that the caretaker government’s biggest relief to the people will be the election date.

In a conversation with Independent Urdu, he said: ‘If the caretaker government wants to give relief to the people of Pakistan, they should give the date of the election. This will stabilize the market. Undoubtedly, the caretaker government has inherited these problems and cannot fix them in a few days.’

According to Khalid Usman: ‘The current electricity bills are from the PDM regime. Exchange rate non-interference agreements are also outdated. If electricity bills are paid in installments, that will also be a temporary relief. How will people pay the bills after three months but there are many problems that they have created themselves. Ever since the caretaker government came, the largest smuggling in history is taking place in the country.’

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He further said that the problem of not getting relief to the people is not only the caretaker government but also the representative organizations of the business community. The business community has failed to represent the public. The investment that the business community invested in the Chambers has also been wasted. Chambers across the country should at least ask the caretaker government what policy they have in place to address the issues. The pressure of all the big chambers of the country can open the way for people to get relief.

Sunny Kumar, Deputy Head of Research at Topline Securities, told Independent Urdu that ‘the reason for the stock market crash is the second large increase in the prices of petroleum products by the caretaker government. The market is expecting interest rates to rise as well. Business cannot be done in such conditions.’

He added: ‘There is news that Saudi Arabia will invest heavily in Pakistan. If this government succeeds in bringing in foreign investment, there will be hope for improvement in the stock market. Providing relief to the country’s economy depends on the policies of the caretaker government. Apparently they have been around for a long time. Consistency in policies can help improve the situation.’

Former President of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce Industry Mian Naeem Javed Sahib told Independent Urdu that this performance of caretaker government is not new. Caretaker governments have been showing similar performance in the past as well.

He added: ‘In 2018, when Shamshad Akhtar was caretaker finance minister, the dollar appreciated by around 13%. Inflation had also increased and interest rates had also increased. They have no public burden, so it is futile to expect relief from them. Until the elections are held, the situation is not likely to improve.’

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