Cautioning against high price spiral

Addressing a public meeting at Charsadda, Central President of Awami National Party Asfandiyar Wali cautioned the PTI led government against the dire consequences that high price spiral may bring in the shape of revolution. He alleged that the government is victimizing the political class through selective process of accountability. He assured participation in the All Parties Conference, which JUI (F) Central Amir Maulana Fazlu Rehman is going to convene, but in the same breath threatened solo flight for agitation against the government in case the decisions taken therein were unsatisfactory.

It is not fair to blame the PTI government alone for the current wave of high prices spiral. This genie raised its head out of bottle when the foundation of regressive fiscal policy of taxing the poor people with indirect taxes was laid in Benazir Bhutto first tenure of government to benefit the feudal and mercantile classes. It gained momentum in the successive tenures of elected governments of two mainstream political parties in which ANP had remained an active coalition partner. The genie of high prices spiral came out of bottle in the last PML-N government and the incumbent government is unable to put it back in the bottle. The shady Power purchase agreements which were made in PPP and PML-N governments with private power producing companies also contributed in a big way to the economic melt down and chronic stagflation and hydra-headed monster of circular debt. The vague reference to French, Russian and Iranian revolution is also not correct. In France and Russia the economic condition alone was not responsible for revolutions. Oppressive and ruthless monarchical system of governments was also a major factor. Iran’s economy was growing at an unprecedented GDP growth rate of 12 percent. It was the suffocating and oppressive monarchical rule of King Raza Shah Pahlavi which worked as catalyst for the clergy led revolution there. In Pakistan the journey of democracy is on and fourth elected government has come to power last year with the mandate of the people. The destination of functional democracy based on the basic fundamentals of transparency, rule of law and across the board accountability is not far away.

The governance in the previous elected governments was plagued by lack of transparency and financial corruption scandals and gross violation of merit. There was no worth the name cover of social protection to neutralize the impact of regressive pro-rich fiscal policies that were implemented by feudal and mercantile classes dominated mainstream political parities and their allied political parties except the political gimmick of Benazir Income Support Programme which was shamefully financed to a greater extent from earthquake rehabilitation fund provided by foreign donors. PTI government has introduced health card and is fast extending is coverage to the majority of population. In the next fiscal year Rs. 40 billion shall be allocated for providing free of cost health facilities to poor people. A separate division of social protection is being set up to implement programmes of poverty reduction. It goes to the credit of present government that merit has been restored to some extent and needs to be restored to greater extent by the setting the direction of bureaucracy right.

The present government and particularly the Prime Minister Imran Khan has focused attention on steering the country out of economic mess created and compounded by the previous governments for which political stability is inevitable. It would be worthwhile that opposition political parties play their due role of maintaining political stability in the country.