Eight days into his government, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced to “reduce” the price of ten kilograms of flour in Punjab from Rs. 550 to Rs. 400 and the price of sugar from Rs. 75 per kilogram to Rs. 70 per kilogram in all Ramadan Bazaars and utility stores. Prime Minister. The Prime Minister also took to Twitter to announce his recent initiative. In the Twitter post, he emphasized that the inability of the current government to alleviate the middle class from its economic difficulties irks him constantly. He further added that “Unfortunately, the condition in which we have received the national treasury is not able to fulfill this wish[to uplift the underprivileged segment of seociety] of mine.” After announcing the populist initiative, the Prime Minister assured his countrymen that “we [new government] would work day and night to improve the economic condition of the country.”
مجھے ہر لمحہ یہ احساس ستاتارہتاہےکہ معاشی بدحالی کے موجودہ حالات میں سفید پوش طبقے کی مشکلات کم کرنے کے لیے ہم کیا کچھ کر سکتے ہیں۔ بدقسمتی سےہمیں قومی خزانہ جس حالت میں ملا ہے وہ میری اس خواہش کو پورا کرنے کے قابل نہیں۔مگر پھر بھی ماہِ رمضان کے دوران اپنے تنگدست اہلِ وطن کی ../1
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) April 20, 2022
However, Netizens were quick to point out the factual inaccuracy of the statements made by the newly elected Prime Minister.
رمضان پیکج کے تحت اب تک 15 لاکھ سے زائد تھیلے شہریوں کو فراہم کیے جا چکے ہیں pic.twitter.com/3DKHmRBVBz
— Azhar Mashwani (@MashwaniAzhar) April 20, 2022
Read More: Ramadan: Health issues and their solutions
To clarify, earlier, the former Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar, on 20 March, announced a mega Ramadan package for the people of Punjab. The Chief Minister allocated approximately Rs. 8 billion for the project, in which he subsidized the rate of major edibles. After the subsidy, a 10-kilogram flour bag was priced at Rs. 375. In addition, 13 other items, including onion, potatoes, and tomatoes, were priced at Agri Fair Price Shop rates, comparatively lower than the prices in the local market.
The Chief Minister maintained that the shops would remain open from 9 AM till Iftar/ sunset. He further emphasized that the special relief package was specifically directed to provide relief and alleviate the downtrodden and the impoverished segment of society. Under the initiative, the government organized 317 Ramadan Bazaars, under which approximately 1,500,000 bags of 10kg flour have been distributed thus far. However, the lax control over the price regulation has detrimentally impacted the initiative.
It is pertinent to mention that reports have surfaced of vendors overcharging the customers even in the Ramadan Bazaar. A survey reported that fair prices – at last year’s rates – were only offered in the agricultural fair shop, whereas the rest of the shops were not pricing their products as per the government’s directives.
The Populist Shahbaz:
A day after being elected as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, in a series of populist measures, PM Sharif announced to jack up the minimum wage from 21,000 and took it up to 25,000 rupees. The new premier also promised pay raises for the civil servants and for development projects in city centers and rural areas. In his maiden speech as chief executive Shahbaz Sharif also announced a 10 percent increase in pensions as well as the salaries of government employees earning less than one lac per month. The premier also called for government institutions to begin work at eight in the morning rather than nine during Ramadan.