Many of the opposition’s allegations in the National Assembly on Tuesday, levelled against the government regarding its inability to control inflation ring true. It is sad however, that the Prime Minister had decided to host a cabinet meeting at the same time as this session, which meant that none of the country’s executive was on hand to answer the questions posed by the opposition, or indeed provide the government’s side of the story.

While the opposition was in uproar over the price hike in the National Assembly, the Prime Minister was reportedly briefing his cabinet over the relief measures the ruling party would be taking to reduce the effect of this crippling inflation on the average individual. A targeted subsidy on essential items is the government’s proposed solution for the immediate term. Utility stores will be provided an additional subsidy of Rs10 billion – they were previously provided Rs7 million – which they will use to give discounted prices of essential items for individuals with monthly incomes ranging from Rs25000 to Rs30000.

The present situation necessitates some sort of action by the government, and given that this decision might provide temporary relief to the people, it is most welcome. However, the move only targets a certain section of the people and the root problem still persists, meaning that this is no more than a stop-gap measure. Providing partial relief to a small subsection of the populace is not the only responsibility of the government.

The country’s economy as a whole is suffering due to the inflation that has essentially moved to all sectors of production. Prices of fuel, electricity, food and imported items means that the cost of all commodities in the market keep rising twice over because of overhead costs in production.

Artificially bringing down the prices of oil, wheat and sugar will do nothing to stop this rapid increase. Not only that, but this is a costly decision by the government, one which will end up taking an important chunk of the government’s annual revenue. What is the point of an austerity drive if the government has to sink Rs10 billion out of its own pocket in something that will provide no benefit in improving our economy?

Worryingly, there hasn’t been much public discussion about the government’s intention in making structural changes, or indeed countering some of the problems it has identified as the core reasons behind the inflation. There have been no reports of any crackdown on hoarders, or any investigations on that front. Similarly, there has been no talk of any structural changes the government might be considering as a counter to the inflation.

Foundational adjustments are needed if the government really wants to solve this issue, instead of merely plugging in holes wherever possible. Lowering energy tariffs and fuel costs might prove to be harder, but will also help in decreasing production costs alongside providing more incentive for factories to keep running. Sustainable solutions that benefit the economy and move us out of this crisis are desperately needed.