ISLAMABAD - PPP Parliamentary Leader in Senate Senator Sherry Rehman has said that after causing the rupee to free fall to Rs150 against the dollar within 48 hours, another Ramazan package has been offered to the people of Pakistan in the form of a 47 percent raise in gas tariff which will add Rs175 billion to their already burdened backs.

“This week has been nothing short of a nightmare for Pakistan. We know that the government has failed in achieving its revenue targets and the FBR is moving towards a Rs450 billion shortfall but why should the people bear the brunt?” she added.

The Senator said: “The decision to hike the gas tariff will have serious repercussions for the working class as well as business industry as such drastic price hikes are not sustainable. The export sector will be crippled and the ease of doing business will further deteriorate.  Following the previous gas price increases of up to 143 per cent under this government, coupled with gas shortages, multiple textile sectors closed down as operations became unsustainable. We can expect worse this time as the overall outlook is gloomy by every indicator. The effects of this will be directly reflected in our trade deficit which is already over $26 billion”.

She added, “Look at the rate of food items, lemons are being sold for Rs400/kilo; bananas for Rs150 per dozen and mutton is Rs1,100/kilo – facts don’t lie, with a country where half the population lives under the poverty line, people are quite literally starving but the government seems indifferent to these realities. Moreover, the stock market is experiencing its worst week in 17 years. It has gone through a bloodbath spiralling down by 2.4 per cent due to the tumbling rupee. But as usual we will be told “ghabrana nahi hai” [do not worry],” she continued.

“What is a poor man to do? It is a real test of patience as on the one hand inflation is nearing double digits and on the other the IMF wants Rs600 billion in taxes imposed. The government is clearly not in the habit of saying ‘no’ to them. At the same time, the rich are being rewarded with amnesty schemes. We hadn’t even come to terms with the recent Rs9 hike in petrol prices earlier this month and another bouncer has been hurled at us,” regretted Rehman.