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LAHORE: “Inflation in Pakistan is all-time high since 1974, and in a country where about a quarter of the population lived below the poverty line even before the current crisis, many are struggling to meet their basic needs.

The cost of nearly everything is soaring, leaving the poor in even more desperate and pushing many in the lower income group and lower middle class into poverty. The government must tax the rich instead of poor and divert debt payments towards relief for the working classes.”

These views were expressed by the speakers and participants during a protest demonstration followed by a public seminar on “Economic Crisis, Rising Inflation & Impacts on Women” organised on Wednesday by Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE) here at Lahore Press Club.

A large number of women joined the protest demonstration and seminar. They were carrying banners and placards, inscribed with slogans in favor of their demands for provision of relief on basic amenities to the poor and shift the burden of taxes on rich. They demanded cuts on unnecessary development expenditures instead of social expenditures. The protestors also raised slogans against the government and IMF for their predatory policies crushing the poor people.

Speaking on the occasion, Bushra Khaliq, Executive Director WISE said the price of wheat flour, electricity, gas and petrol has reached a record high, adversely affecting the lives, livelihoods and overall well-being of poor people. The speed and magnitude of the evaporation of purchasing power and decline in living standards is unprecedented. The government must review its priorities and divert debt repayments towards the relief for the poverty-stricken people, facing brutal impacts.

Earlier addressing the participants of seminar, she said food inflation is at an all-time high in Pakistan. Long queues at floor distribution points was horrific indicator of the severe food crisis in the country and women are the first to receive the punch of the economic crisis, she said.

The prices of vegetables, meat, dairy products, and bread have skyrocketed as the purchasing power of the people continues to shrink amid an ongoing economic crisis, she added. She further said that unfortunate side of dismal picture is that some of the adverse effects are long-lasting if not permanent, such as children being disenrolled from school or households being tipped into poverty. The government should have mercy and decrease the inflation.

Addressing on this occasion, Executive Director, Institute for Social & Economic Justice (ISEJ), Abdul Khaliq said Pakistan is in perfect debt trap and both; the ruling elite of Pakistan and IMF are responsible for the ongoing economic crisis in Pakistan. The ordinary people of the country are struggling to afford basic necessities amid no chance of prices do not come down.

Pointing out the grim economic situation of poor families, he said that household budget cuts, economic despair, children being pulled out of schools, household earners taking on additional burden and stress with multiple low-paying jobs, others being forced to give up decent paying jobs because they could not afford the commute anymore, elective healthcare being deferred, while in some cases even critical life-supporting care becoming unaffordable, etc. These are some of the everyday struggles of Pakistanis in 2023.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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