By Sardar Khan Niazi
In order to rein in inflation and conserve resources the federal government has announced a set of austerity measures that seek to save energy costs amid a heightening economic crisis.
The announcement came a day after the prime minister organized a high-level meeting to deliberate the technicalities of the debt crisis, specifically circular debt in the energy sector.
By pushing the energy sector to generate more revenue, the government hopes to ease the pressure on the economy, which has already committed itself to structural adjustments as per the advice of the International Monetary Fund.
The announced measures include shutting down markets and restaurants by 8 pm, the wedding halls by 10 pm, and a work-from-home plan for a fifth of the government workforce.
The government also wants to introduce electric motorbikes and is in consultation with a manufacturing company that specializes in electric bikes in the hopes that more people will opt for energy-efficient transport.
More energy-efficient lightbulbs and fans as well as moving government buildings to solar energy is also on the list of measures to ease the pressure on Pakistan’s fragile energy economy.
However, electric bikes and more efficient lightbulbs or moving all government buildings to solar energy is not something that can be done overnight.
The measures also comprise conserving water and harvesting rain to reduce energy wastage. The government must realize that water conservation and rain harvesting require extensive infrastructure investments and the government does not have the resources for them now.
The announced austerity measures are not a fresh solution to the crises the country faces. These austerity measures are the same announced in June during a deepening energy shortfall.
Surprisingly, preachers of austerity have gathered an army of ministers, advisors, and special assistants to pacify allies that not only caused heavy monetary losses to the national exchequer but also created a bad image of the incumbent government at home and abroad. A significant reduction in the sizes of Federal and provincial cabinets can help save valuable public money.
Undeniably, the economic situation of the country is so awful that not only demands strict financial austerity but also an immediate ban on all non-developmental state expenditures, luxuries of bureaucracy, and elite class including foreign visits, treatment abroad, and bulky incentives.
It is also necessary that every citizen of Pakistan including traders, businesspersons, and common people must espouse the national interest because austerity is the only solution for all the economic woes of the country. After all, these arrangements should not be one-way traffic, while restricting the nation’s living and working style, the rulers must pull their legs within the robe.
Traditionally, such measures have been extensively used by nearly every former ruler nevertheless the result of those repetitive and ill-conceived steps was nil because those who desired to eat grass to help national interest damaged the economy while others who pledged to use a bicycle for traveling scorched millions of rupees in using helicopters.
These days, a group of several political parties and people of several dyes occupy the Federal capital while each provincial government is busy executing its political program to win over the next election in their area, whereas no one cares about the plummeting economy.
Even though, economic problems are multifarious everywhere in the world, particularly the low and middle-income countries are the most horrible sufferers in the midst of high fuel prices and ever-deteriorating economic dilemmas around the globe.
Pakistan’s economy is also in trouble with snowballing price escalations and persistent political unpredictability. Pakistan’s economic situation started worsening in 2019 with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic and at present, it has reached its lowest ebb reaching a dangerous critical point in history.