KARACHI: Naureen Ahsan earns more than double the average salary in Pakistan, but a school administrator says she has no choice but to homeschool her daughters and delay their London-board certified final exams because she wants to support their education. Can’t afford the expense.
Like most people in the nation of 220 million, Ahsan and her husband, who owns a car servicing business, are facing rising living costs triggered by the government’s devaluation of the currency and removal of subsidies to pave the way for the latest tranche. Struggling to cope. An International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout is needed to prevent economic collapse.
Pakistan is no stranger to economic woes – this is its fifth IMF bailout since 1997 – but economists say the latest measures, which include higher taxes and fuel costs, are hurting educated professionals. Many say they are cutting down on necessities to make ends meet. “We don’t eat out anymore,” Ahsan said. reuters,
“We don’t buy meat, fish anymore. I have reduced the use of tissue paper and detergent. We don’t see friends, we don’t give gifts. Sometimes, we shout at each other.”
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The government-mandated minimum wage is around 25,000 rupees, but with inflation at a record 31.5% in February, its highest rate in nearly 50 years, many people who earn more than that say their pay doesn’t last the month.
NowSalary, one of Pakistan’s largest fintech firms that allows its 200,000 or so customers to withdraw wages in advance, says transactions grew by more than a fifth each month for the past three months Is.
Abhi CEO Omar Ansari said most people spend two-thirds of their money on groceries after starting to stock up before prices rise again.
“Unfortunately the poor in Pakistan have nothing left to lose,” said Abid Suleri, from the Pakistan Institute for Sustainable Development Policy, an economic think tank.
“Educated professionals… find their purchasing power and savings low, and daily consumption either unaffordable or out of reach.”
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Ramadan, which began this week, is likely to put pressure on prices in Muslim-majority Pakistan. Analysts expect inflation to rise to at least 35% per month in March and April.
During the holy month, Muslims traditionally break their day-long fast with special foods and large family gatherings, which culminate in the Eid al-Fitr celebration. This year, for many, Ramadan means more belt-tightening. “We are cutting down on the number of meals and meals,” said Ahmad, a senior manager at a multinational company, who declined to name his family because he was worried about a possible backlash from his employer.
“It will be more difficult to buy sweets and gifts for Eid, which is different from our family tradition.” The economic turmoil is driving some professionals out of the country.
Khaliq, a doctor who did not want to give his full name because he was embarrassed by his financial situation, said he and his wife, also a doctor, worked as much as they could to save up for exams to qualify. Let them to work in UK.
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“We think twice about eating out or using a car,” he said, adding that the weak rupee was driving up the cost of his exams, which are in British pounds, rising by the day. “We plan to pass the test and get out as soon as possible.”