I'm a Pakistani national, and my country is currently going through an economic crisis. Inflation is at an all-time high, and this has affected our daily lives, the future seems bleak. From grocery goods to transport, the prices of everything are at an all-time high right now.
The country's external debt and liabilities have almost reached $130 billion.
Prices in the month of February rose 4.3 per cent as compared to January. If we talk about the monthly inflation rate, there has been a massive jump of 31.6 per cent in February, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
Talking about the month of March, the financial crisis is not just visible in the numbers you read about in newspapers but is visible everywhere when I travel on the streets of Lahore.
'We Can Barely Afford Food Items'
As someone who runs the household, I have seen a stark difference in the prices. Chicken prices have sharply risen from 300 PKR to almost 650 or 700 PKR (varying in different places, but the price range has now gone somewhere between 600 and 700 PKR).
Onions, an essential part of cooking, are now no longer within the range of an ordinary man, with prices soaring to 180 PKR per kilo.
Ginger, another essential item used in every meal, has experienced a price rise too, from 250 PKR per kg and 500 PKR per kg, but now it’s a 1000 PKR per kg.
Milk prices have risen to 150 PKR per kilo; in some places, it’s now even 200 PKR per kilo. Those with younger children have complained of how their budget has been irreparably damaged due to a surge in milk prices and general inflation.
For them, even the humblest of all, a roti has become a luxury too. Roti prices in all the dhabas have now risen to 25 PKR, leading to a direct assault on the already distraught impoverished section of society.
A mere cup of tea at a dhaba has risen to PKR 50. Even dhabas are no longer affordable.
There has been a massive hike in fuel prices too. With petrol and diesel costing Rs 272 and Rs 280 respectively.
With the rise in prices, there is a definite rise in poverty; therefore, I have seen that the number of people flocking to the meat or vegetable shop has fallen sharply.
Inflation In The Time of Ramadan
One big and clear evidence of such growing disparity and increasing economic damage to the lower sections of society is visible in the fact that though Ramadan is yet to arrive, this year, the number of people who have utilised the service of mazdoors (labourers) for a whitewash service in their house has declined sharply.
These labourers who used to have the best earnings during this time of the year are now struggling to find work. Those who used to call them are now trying to compress their budget and save money.
It is visible that services like whitewashing are now treated as a luxury they need to afford. From my interactions with mazdoors on the street, there is one standard answer to all of them: we have no work.
Some of these labourers told me they'd had no work for a month at a time of the year, which has always been their peak earning time.
These daily-wage workers aren't the only ones struggling with finding work, on my way to the local grocer, I met an old man who once had a mobile phone repair workshop, but now that shop does not exist as he couldn’t afford the heavy rent he had to pay for the commercial space, his rent was hiked in January.
Now, he doesn't have a shop, work or money. He is now forced to beg on the street to provide food for his family.
'Long Power Cuts in Lahore'
Lahore has been facing frequent power cuts too. The situation improved a little in between, but it has again returned to the same.
I have decided to increase my savings and reduce my spending as everything is unpredictable and uncertain as if the worse is yet to come.
I have to readjust my budgetary considerations almost every week now, this was never the case before as previously it was more of a monthly task for me.
The utility bills have become a nightmare, with them draining my budget more than ever with the increase in per-unit electricity prices.
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