Stories about prices

Pakistan needs to stop spending on its defence so much

It was October 30, 2003 – 11 and a half years ago – when someone at The Economist penned an article titled Pakistan’s economy: Feeling undervalued. For the next three years, every Taimur (Tom), Danial (Dick) and Haris (Harry) praised and rejoiced the unprecedented economic growth rate in the history of Pakistan. But what happened with the West’s financial press that suddenly – and finally – people started taking about a Pakistan with something else to offer than its role in War on Terror? The answer is surprisingly simple; falling oil prices – and the economic growth that followed suit. In the fiscal ...

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This Eid, there was no spirit of sacrifice for me

Six-year-old Osama ran hurriedly down the stairs of his apartment, as did the other kids. Children came rushing out of their houses, some from their homework and others from their video games. Mothers shrieked and grandmothers grumbled but to no avail. The street was soon swarming with kids of all ages and sizes, running towards something that seemed to possess a magnetic prowess. At length, the Pied Piper of Pakistan stopped, and the children stood around it, anticipating the descent of the much awaited cow. Excitement was widespread in the crowd, every child and every man was discussing in hushed ...

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Has Pakistan forgotten what Ramazan means?

The most awaited Islamic month, Ramazan, is here. Muslims around the globe observe this month in their own, unique way. In Pakistan, people are usually busy buying groceries, making regular trips to the tailors to get their Eid outfits stitched, setting up their houses, planning iftar parties and praying – all in that order. Ramazan in the United States is celebrated differently, however. Muslims try to change their timings and cut down their work shifts so that they stay fresh for taraweeh prayers and late night qayaam. As an American Muslim, it is a great test to stay patient while fasting and dealing with ...

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Inflating food prices and deflating wallets: Don’t blame the government, blame yourself

Inflation is one of the hot topics in Pakistan these days. There has been a drastic increase in the general level of prices in recent years. As per the press release of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as of November 2013 stood at 191.21 index points compared to 172.42 index points in the corresponding month last year. It is pertinent to note that the CPI has increased from record lows of 62.82 index points in July 2001 to skyrocketing 191.21 index points within 13 years. According to the PBS, the category that has the highest weight in the CPI ...

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Peshawar’s transport blues

The city of Peshawar lacks an organised system on all major fronts. Each successive government gives hope by promising relief. However, the promises go completely silent thereafter. There is no respite for a commoner. In the backdrop of the recent reduction in oil prices, the fact that people undergo hardships while travelling through public transport is rather abysmal and thus, increases the public’s misery manifold. According to public statements made by the authorities concerned, fare for transport is calculated in relation to petrol prices. Why then, is there a hike in fares when gas stations remain closed due to violence, ...

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Economic policies: Think short term, stay happy

Weak governments cannot make strong policies. We saw an example of this when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani gave in to political pressure and reversed the decision to increase petroleum prices – despite the fact that oil prices are soaring in the international market. The move received praise from both, political and business leaders. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) rejoined the government while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also supported the decision – all without any consideration for the long term economic implications of the move. During the episode leaders made a volley of statements that I have done my best ...

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Electric Avenue: Sky high bills getting higher

What I pay for electricity of my apartment is almost half the rent itself. There is only one room, with a fan and two tube-lights, other than that I only have a laptop, a toaster, a microwave oven and a 0.75-ton split air-conditioner. As if the price of electricity is not high enough, donor agencies usually demand that the government address inter-corporate debt which has grown to Rs426 billion. And no matter how much money the government tries to inject into the system to get it running again, making it sustainable will require huge increases in electricity prices as well as ...

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Dear govt, wake up and smell the inflation!

Just last week, tomatoes were being sold for Rs60 per kg, but this week they were priced at Rs80 for the same amount. When I asked why the sudden price rise of Rs20 in just one week, I got a short reply: “Baji, saardiyan shuru hogayi hai,” (Sister, winter has commenced.) Now, what do tomato prices have to do with the sudden drop in temperatures? The supply of tomatoes is going to continue just as always- there is no sowing strike, no harvesting strike, no farmer strike, no buyer strike, no transport strike – and there hasn’t been any news of devastation ...

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What you need to know about RGST

The Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) Bill has become the latest ground for political games. While the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) calls it a necessity, almost all parties are in strong opposition. Amidst the political rhetoric, economic experts are siding with the proposed taxation system and the public is flinching at the thought of yet another price hike. What is the RGST? Why is it suddenly so important? Is it really as evil as they say? Here are a few answers. What is the RGST? The RGST is actually plain old Value Added Tax (VAT) with a new name. Since the VAT has ...

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The bitter truth: Use less sugar

Sugar has gone from the once dictatorial price of Rs27 per kg to a much awaited democracy induced price of up to Rs125 per kg. Rates in large cities of Lahore and Karachi are up to Rs105 per kg. It is said that sugar mill owners and wholesalers have become millionaires many times over. Rumour has it that sugar prices will further increase to Rs150 per kg during the Eidul Adha festivities. I remember the era of the 1970s in Karachi when sugar was not even available in the market. One needed ration cards to get sugar and some other staple ...

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