EDITORIAL: It seems we’ve all but reached the point where unaffordable energy alone will break the working class, ruin households, bankrupt industry and unravel the house of cards that is the Pakistani economy.

But, then, this is just what to expect when your only hope of avoiding, rather delaying, default is an active IMF (International Monetary Fund) programme, but it just so happens that now these bailouts come with tax-increasing and subsidy-cutting “upfront conditions” that will still deliver the kiss of death to the economy, even without a formal default.

Besides, there’s only so much good any amount of aid money will do if the government continues to avoid the painful process of reforms – making this the classic, textbook case of throwing good money after bad money.

For example, we’ve been hearing for ages that something will have to be done about the nature of contracts signed with IPPs (Independent Power Producers) – maybe renegotiate, since there are precedents, or even just cancel them – but that’s where the ball has stayed since day one. Indeed, just a few days ago, the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) once again urged the government to “terminate all agreements with IPPs and produce electricity from cheaper sources to alleviate economic strain”.

Let’s not forget that all this, and more, has been said, suggested, debated and promised a hundred times before, yet not a thing has ever been done.

Meantime, losses have mounted, theft has increased, the circular debt has ballooned, and honest, paying consumers have had to foot the bill, quite literally, for all this inefficiency, incompetence, and downright corruption.

The energy pricing mechanism remains an unfair, predatory, top-down one, households already burdened with historic inflation and unemployment have suffered and continue to suffer like never before, and industry continues to be priced out of the competitive international market.

It’s as if there is a deliberate effort to sabotage production, employment, revenue, and the entire economic cycle. Otherwise, why wouldn’t the government, regardless of any particular party in power at any particular time, ever initiate reforms or at least revise an energy pricing mechanism that insults the very demand-supply based market system that the economy is supposed to embrace and employ?

And let there be no mistake, this attitude – deliberate or otherwise – has brought us to the point where the ridiculous price of energy alone assures economic ruin.

Remember last August, when the caretaker government faced so much heat because energy bills had to be inflated to meet IMF revenue requirements and the whole country came out on the streets? Government servants have the luxury of annual pay rises, etc., but most working class Pakistanis have only seen their jobs lost and/or real incomes downgraded over the last few years of unprecedented inflation and job losses, and now they have to pay bills they can no longer afford to just because the government cannot get its act together and even begin sorting out the energy mess. This way, the future will naturally be worse than the past and present.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Comments

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Saad Shakil Jul 11, 2024 09:51am
Brilliant one! There is a dire need to make reforms in energy sector. Bring private sector in Tx & Dx sector. Start CTBCM and invest in renewable energy
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KU Jul 11, 2024 12:23pm
The civil disobedience, violation of laws n rise in crimes has now become common all over the country. The rural agri regions are witnessing daily cases of property disputes n murders, how much more?
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KU Jul 11, 2024 01:28pm
The power sector have charged over Rs. 850 billion various taxes from consumers, and this does not include the Rs. 500 billion estimated theft in public sector supervision. What more can go wrong?
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Faraz Jul 14, 2024 02:02pm
Wow an amazing article, well needed MashaAllah. Masterpiece
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:08pm
The editorial by the Business Recorder is truly memorable, deeply addressing the struggles of Pakistan's poor. While the privileged few enjoy their comforts, the middle class is driven to,
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:09pm
The middle class is driven to frustration, burdened by the ever-increasing costs of electricity and gas bills. This piece powerfully voices the plight of the marginalized and the growing.
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:10pm
This piece powerfully voices the plight of the marginalized and the growing disparity in society.
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:20pm
The poor in Pakistan are unaware of the IPPs agreements; they only lament their misfortune at not being born with a silver spoon. The Pakistani people are being subjected to the poison,
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:23pm
The mental strain on every Pakistani is overwhelming, pushing many to the brink of mental illness, with some inevitably facing hospitalization.
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:33pm
It is deeply regrettable that when the salary of a laborer is increased in the National Assembly, there is loud applause as if a grand achievement has been made. They boast about raising the,
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:34pm
They boast about raising the laborer's wage to 36,000 rupees, as if this act alone will bring joy to the struggling workers.
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:34pm
These privileged few, these so-called holy cows, celebrate as if they have done a great service, while their applause only serves to pacify their subjugated followers.
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:43pm
In this monarchy-like country, where rulers have changed faces but remained from the same lineage for decades, the poor have been driven to mental illness. Remember, you have plundered the poor people
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:44pm
of Pakistan, causing them immense pain. They are deprived of even two meals a day. Beware of the silent but powerful retribution of the Almighty. When it strikes, it is unexpected and relentless.
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:45pm
They are deprived of even two meals a day. Beware of the silent but powerful retribution of the Almighty. When it strikes, it is unexpected and relentless.
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Mumtaz Malik Jul 15, 2024 04:48pm
Now, the impoverished masses are being crushed under the burden of exorbitant electricity and gas bills, cursing you day and night for their suffering.
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