Passenger: “What are you saying? Only yesterday I paid Rs. 20 for the bus fare, now you are charging me Rs. 30?”
Bus conductor: “Yes, that was a day ago, don’t you know the government jacked up prices of petroleum prices last night. We, transporters, cannot do anything but to increase fares.”
Passenger: “This is just unfair! The government should just kill us, instead of making us suffer like this.”
Bus Conductor: “Don’t make a scene, sir. We too, have to run our kitchens, I cannot sell my clothes to feed my children.
These discussions have now become customary in Pakistan, especially in the wake of recent price hikes in petroleum product rates announced by the government in just a span of a few weeks.
The decision, which the incumbent government says was necessary and in the larger interest of the country’s economy – which remains engulfed with a number of crises i.e. the balance of payments and depreciating foreign exchange reserves – has driven up inflation while instigating the masses.
A typical response by the government to date has been to blame its predecessors while constantly reminding the public that energy prices remain high in the international market.
The latter part of the argument, however, is accurate as a rise in demand following the removal of Covid-19 induced measures and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict have severely impacted global supply chains driving up commodity prices, especially energy.
World priorities too, have shifted in the wake of recent developments and countries especially in the West are expressing concern for their energy security, and are questioning their overreliance of energy needs on Russia or any other country for that matter.
This has pushed the developed world to pursue more indigenous sources, especially reviving interest in renewable energy resources, which are sustainable and are increasingly becoming more cost effective.
Moreover, in Pakistan, a country with a growing population of over 220 million people, where the demand for energy is only about to rise in the near future, it is pivotal for the country’s decision-makers to address the vulnerabilities of its energy sector.
According to the latest figures from the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), the total cost of generating electricity in the country jumped 131%, hitting Rs13.15 kWh in May 2022 compared to Rs5.7 kWh in May last year.