The rise of prices, in particular those of staple items such as food has continued regardless of the government’s attempts to counter it. Inflation has persisted as a potent opponent of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government’s attempts to revive our stagnant economy. 14.6 percent in January from 12.6 percent in December just shows that 2020 is not really the year of relief that the Prime Minister promised.

Instead of relief the average person has to bear the worst effects of inflation through food items. Urban areas have seen prices of food products rise by 19.5 percent in the last year, but the real damage has been wrought in rural parts where an increase of 23.6 percent shows that the poorest are having the hardest time surviving the current crisis. Any welfare attempts by the government are not nearly enough when even basic items such as wheat and lentils are beyond the purchasing power of most families.

What is the government’s plan to bring prices back to an acceptable level? Its attempts to stabilise the rupee have been successful, but we have not taken advantage by increasing exports to bring some much needed revenue. The expectation that the yield from crops in February and March will bring stability is tantamount to hoping for the best and not proactive enough to bring in the prosperity that was promised.

In the midst of all this hardship and toil, we have some lawmakers that were supporting a bill to increase their own salaries, which thankfully, both PTI and PPP rejected. The fact that the chief whip in the Senate was convinced that doubling the average parliamentarian’s salary was a more crucial issue than the potential millions that might go hungry tells us that many representatives can be a little tone deaf in their prioritisation of business in the legislative.

Those that thought tabling and supporting this bill was the right move – without any regard for the current economic landscape – must turn their attention towards more pressing issues. However, what is troubling is that there is not much to see in terms of solutions being offered by the government to curtail inflation and head towards economic growth.

Let us examine the position we are in; the current levels of inflation are roughly equivalent to the ones during the global 2008 recession. The Prime Minister and his government have told us that 2020 will be a year where the ruling party’s policies will come to fruition but the first month has not shown any evidence of progress. Things must improve and quickly, or else the general public will continue to suffer.