How can prices be brought down?
Masses are always worried about the price hike and increasing unemployment all over the world. All countries have to work out policies to grapple with the two problems. The governments that deal with them effectively add to their popularity and stand a better political future.
In Pakistan, a majority of people had voted for the PTI government hoping that it would transform the country into ‘the state of Madina’ that would be a model not only for this country but also for others. They pinned their hopes on the PTI after experiencing multiple terms of both the PML-N and the PPP.
The pre-election promises made by Imran Khan were very attractive. And they were behind the PTI’s electoral performance.
But, unfortunately, the government has not come up to the common man’s expectations. Its performance is simply disappointing after which it is hard to say whether it will be able to get another term as a result of fresh elections.
The PTI’s team dealing with finances has miserably failed to regulate the free market which is virtually controlled by the big mafia and “Sattas”. Still more deplorable is the fact that Prime Minister Imran Khan has been misled while formulating a 27- member EAC. He has ignored some members’ loyalty, relationship and their specific role in the past.
Good economic governance needs that the Prime Minister must take some concrete steps to ensure food and nutrition security of over 70 million vulnerable population in both rural and urban regions.
In the light of his decades of experience of serving various departments and organizations in important positions, the writer can claim that the institutions meant to control prices are not working according to their charters. Those working for these institutions are just drawing their salaries and enjoying benefits, without performing the roles they are supposed to do.
It is a matter of record that during 70s some specific institutions were established under the administrative control of the federal government. to stabilize the prices by regulating supplies. Their aim was to minimize the speculative role of various mafias and middleman. The leading role was mainly assigned to Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) and the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP). The Prime Minister must examine the most comprehensive Memorandums and Articles of Association of these institutions and compare them with their current functions.
They are not doing all they are supposed to do. The government should force them to perform the roles they had been set up for. This done, prices would automatically come down.
Unless they performed their roles according to their charters the situation would not improve and people would continue to suffer because of an unaffordable price hike.
The PASSCO, for example, has a huge network across the country which performs multiple functions.
If the Prime Minister really wants to restore the writ of his government, he has just to direct PASSCO’s Board of Directors to resume their original judicial work coupled with effective financial management as done by the late Gen. Zia-ul-Haq because this public sector organization has a network to serve both the farming community and consumer simultaneously.
The late Jamil Nishter and the writer were not only the founders of PASSCO but they worked as Chairman and Secretary, respectively, for almost eight years.
The Prime Minister will have to adopt a new approach to resolve the current issues of the poor on an emergency basis.
There are no visible achievements or any outcome of expert committees/ task forces. Their inability to take on current issues of the general public is quite obvious.
The sooner the government switches to the suggested system, the better.
Contributed by Muhammad Sharif Ch., a senior banker and economist & central vice-president, PAT