The federal government caved in to the Finance Ministry, and announced a strange Eid gift for the nation in the form of a hike in fuel prices. In the previous weekly review, before Eidul Fitr on Monday, the federal government had not only absorbed the increase in international oil prices, but had also promised that there would be no increases for the rest of the month. However, the price increase has taken place, with petrol going up Rs 4.85 a litre to Rs 96.78 a litre. Inevitably, the price of CNG has also gone up. Because of the price increase, the cost of moving both people and goods, both intra- and inter-city, will go up, making a new round of inflation inevitable. The government should realise that fuel price hikes do not hit a particular class, but all alike, and such inflationary steps on the eve of an election, something which the President mentioned in his Eid greetings to the leaders of all allied parties, do not bode well. The current increase reflects a commitment that could not be kept. Either the government assumes that the people are afflicted with such a loss of short term memory as to be brain-damaged, or it is very cynical about them, and assumes it can get away with anything.Apart from the evil of hoarding, as petrol pump owners try to charge new prices for fuel on which they have paid lower taxes, the new system only fuels the increase in fuel adjustment charges on electricity, which are acting as a kind of increase in the tariff, because they do not come down with the falling of the international oil price. This does not have to do with the power shortages, though the loadshedding they cause has thrown thousands out of work, with the result that people are even less prepared than usual to face the inevitable inflation the latest fuel price hike will provoke.The government needs to avoid the point which it may well have reached, and which it has been fast approaching, that of raising fuel prices so high that their general inflationary effect will make it impossible for the consumer to pay either the power bills, or for fuel or even food. The government must devise some mechanism to prevent these fuel increases, and for a start, should reverse the increases that have been announced. If it cannot do so, and that too with a general election only months away, then it will have no one to blame but itself if the electorate takes away its right to rule.