The price of a Nutella jar went from roughly Rs. 400 to Rs. 700 in a month. Imagine having to explain to your kids that hazelnut spread is now a luxury we can’t afford to spread on our slices of bread every morning. Fuel is sky-rocketing, so outings are a minimum. No we can’t drive the 30 odd kilometers to the beach every week, kids. Sorry. And this is just the middle class.
What about those who were already struggling to put food into their kids bellies, even once a day? How is someone who earns minimum wage supposed to pay electricity bills for the singular fan and light that their humble home has? The blue collar segment of our society has always had tough times to deal with, but how will the middle class fare, let’s focus on that for now.
Lifestyle at Risk
Most middle class families led comfortable lives, their paychecks covering rent, food, transport and occasional entertainment options. A little bit went into the savings jar and we went on with our lives. And then came the Budget 2019-20, and all hell broke loose on the salaried class. Come tomorrow, we will be buried in a slew of taxes, that we will glean absolutely no benefit out of. As if the high sales taxes weren’t enough, we now have to pay more direct taxes too. And to what end? How much of the economy’s burden does the government need to put on the shoulders of the salaried person? We’re paying hefty tutions for our kids because they never worked on a proper state education system. We burn holes through our pockets every time a family member gets sick. Our travel is expensive because there is no proper public transport system. And all this after having paid taxes all of our adult lives.
Why is it that it is always the middle class that has to pay the price for this economy being in shambles? There is a term used to describe the segment of society that will soon be pushed to poverty. Transitory vulnerable are those who could have had improved living standards with the right economic policies, but due to heavy taxation, will fall even lower. And this is exactly what has happened with this year’s budget.
The income and wealth divide in Pakistan has always been monumental. A huge group of the privileged pay negligible taxes. They keep accumulating wealth with zero accountability, while those with even meager savings have to face audits. The tax slabs and their percentages put the heaviest burden on the middle class, the rich can still walk with ease.
While talking about this on social media, a lot of people take offense at similar views because they think they are in direct criticism of the PM. The single most popular argument is “You were fine when the others took from you. Why can’t you give this government a chance.” What they fail to realize is that it does not matter who the PM is or who is making the decisions. Our problem is with the policies and how they are very unfair to the salaried class. Will we ever get any relief? Or is all the sacrifice that is to be made for a brighter future only expected from us?
There is not much we can do except for rant on social media, curse our own luck and then silently watch as a good chunk of our income disappears into the void. Well, at least there is hope.