Ever-increasing misery

The costs of the deals struck with the IMF have been heavy. The prices of utilities have gone up, people are pressed harder than ever and there is no sign of an economic upturn that could boost growth, generate jobs and possibly help people manage just a little better. Now we have even worse news. According to a report in this newspaper, the government will be raising power tariffs by two or three per cent each month – a process that will by June 2011 result in an increase of somewhere between 19.4 and 30.4 per cent. Over the last 30 months, tariffs have already gone up by a whopping 63.6 per cent. The incomes brought in by almost everyone in the country have meanwhile shrunk in real terms given the rate of inflation in the prices of vital goods. The degree of suffering has been intense.We ask how – in times when parents kill children they cannot feed, beggars increase in number along many streets and desperate families beg for food – any government can inflict such torture on people. Among the worst-affected of course are those too proud to beg. It is of course still more ironic that the measures come from a setup that claims to stand for the poor and was elected on this slogan. The impact of the power-tariff rise will be crippling. Independent groups should make an assessment of how families will manage. Will they cut back on food? On education for children? On healthcare? It is likely of course that all these vital areas and others will be affected. The government needs to state what is expects people to do. Its main responsibility, after all, is to serve the people. From the opposition too we need far more strident questions in parliament. The power-tariff rise is a huge issue. It should not be left only to the media to highlight its significance and the manner in which it will influence the welfare of millions of people who even now struggle to survive – Thenews