Pakistan crisis: Not just the looming debt crisis and depleting forex reserves, Pakistan is also facing record year-on-year inflation with retail prices of several household products climbing at an unprecedented pace. The highest spike of 501 per cent has been recorded in onion prices followed by chicken broiler (82.5), pulse gram (51.5), and salt powder (49.5).
As of 5 January, one kg of onion cost Rs 220 from Rs 36 a year ago - a spike of 501 per cent. Chicken broiler was available at Rs 383 per kg from Rs 210 a year ago, pulse gram was being sold at Rs 228 from nearly Rs 151.
These prices are in Pakistani rupee (PKR). If compared with Indian prices, Pakistanis are paying nearly Rs 80 for one kg of onion (after exchange rate adjustment).
Besides this, rice and oil prices have risen by 40-50 per cent. As per the latest figure, one kg of Basmati rice is costing Rs 146, up by 46 per cent. Milk prices have jumped by 30 per cent to nearly Rs 150. The country's overall inflation number came in at 24.5 per cent in December 2022 - nearly four times that of India.
Pakistan is in the middle of an unprecedented economic crisis with almost all economic indicators suggesting trouble ahead. Its foreign reserves have come down to an eight-year low of $5.576 billion - enough for only three weeks of imports.
The situation got so bad that the government recently had to order the early shutdown of markets and halls to conserve energy as it did not have enough reserves to import oil.
In some parts, people are facing a shortage of flour. Stampedes have been reported in several areas like Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh provinces.
According to a report, a father of seven in Sindh's Mirpurkhas district died near the commissioner’s office outside the Gulistan-e-Baldia Park where two mini trucks were selling flour. The police said the man fell on the road during the hustle and was trampled upon by the surrounding people.
In Sindh, three women were reportedly injured as they were crushed by a crowd after a stampede broke out outside a flour mill in Sakrand town of Shaheed Benazirabad.
Pakistan is also staring at default as it needs at least $13 billion during this fiscal year to pay external debts. Islamabad's total external debt was at $130.433 billion by 2021, according to an annual debt report by the World Bank. Pakistan has to pay $33 billion in debts by FY 2023.
State Bank of Pakistan Governor Jameel Ahmad last month said that $20 billion had been accounted for but the country still needed $13 billion by June 2023.
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