HBWWF holds protest rally against rising prices and inflation – Latest News – The Nation
KARACHI — Large numbers of workers here staged a protest rally on Sunday against record high food prices and inflation and demanded to stop making Pakistan a colony of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which they dubbed the new East India Company.
According to the details, a large number of workers held a rally here against rising prices and record food inflation under the banner of the National Federation of Trade Unions (NTUF) and the Home Workers Federation (HBWWF) and chanted slogans and the government in place. The rally was led by Comrade Zehra Khan, Riaz Abbassi and Comrade Aqib Hussain.
Addressing the rally, the union leaders accused the leaders of being facilitators and agents of the IMF and other global lenders. They said that for only six billion dollars, Pakistan becomes a colony of the IMF.
Calling current and past leaders responsible for the current economic crisis in the country, they said that due to their anti-people policies, Pakistan today is burdened with 130 billion dollars in foreign loans and 53.5 trillion rupees of internal loans. They said that a 22% increase in these loans had been obtained under the government of Imran Khan. They said that each new ruler proved more cruel than the previous one. They said the current government has pushed the masses into the worst economic crisis. By raising oil prices to an unbearable level, the poor masses are being driven to starvation and death. The Rs 28 billion relief announced by the government is stirring salt in the wounds of Pakistan’s poor. This relief is for eight and a half Crore people, which means a relief of Rs330 per person.
They said the actual inflation is much higher than the 15.1% inflation announced by the government. They said that according to one estimate, food inflation is above 17.25%, while the electricity tariff has been increased by 24.8% and the gas tariff by 45%. They said that over the past five years, drug prices have gone up 265%.
They said that in 2018 the minimum wage is Rs 16200 or $132 per month and in 2022 it is Rs 19000 or $95 which means the actual minimum wage is decreased by $33 or Rs 7300 per month.
As a result, 179 million Pakistani citizens, or 78% of the population, are forced to live below the poverty line. However, the ruling elite, including the capitalists, the military and civilian bureaucracy, and the landowners, who control politics, extort $17.4 billion a year from the national economy. Owners who do not even represent one percent of the total population own 22 percent of the country’s cultivable land. The capitalists get benefits of 4.7 billion per year from the state, while the military establishment gets relief of 1.7 billion rupees every year in land tax. The national economy is on the verge of bankruptcy, but the defense budget is increasing by 1.45 trillion rupees for the coming financial year.
They said that 49.6% of the national income goes to 20% of the high income population, while the poorest 20% population receives only 7% of the total national income. They said State Bank Governor gets a salary of Rs24 Lakh per month and a Judge gets a salary of Rs13 Lakhs a month in addition to other benefits while a worker gets a salary of Rs19000 per month in Sindh and 90% of the workers did not even get it. They said senior officers receive a monthly pension of Rs7 Lakh, but the majority of workers do not receive a meager pension of a few thousand dollars from EOBI.
They said the growing socio-economic injustice in society is the result of the callousness of the ruling elite. It could only end with the help of an organized mass resistance movement. They said that the people of Pakistan are right when they say that the ruling elite, including politicians, capitalists, feudal lords, civil and military bureaucracy and those who run the judiciary, have entered into a so-called holy alliance to protect their vested interests, which makes life hell for the poor masses of Pakistan.
They suggested that with Parliament’s approval, talks should be held with credit agencies, including the IMF, for a ten-year moratorium on their loans.
They asked to reduce the defense budget by fifty percent, but not to reduce the combat budget.
They said the use of vehicles over 1500cc in government offices should be banned. Saying that free petrol of 50 billion rupees a year to 0.15 million cars from government offices should be stopped.
They demanded a 50% reduction in the salaries of officers aged 18 and over, including judges, parliamentarians and generals.
They said trade relations with India should resume and the two countries should grant each other Most Preferred Nation (MFN) status.
They demanded sweeping land reforms and the distribution of absentee landowners among the Haris.
They suggested favoring the export industry while discouraging imports. They called for a ban on imports of all goods that can be manufactured in the country. Measures should be taken to control smuggling.
They demanded a minimum wage of at least 40,000 rupees and calculated the minimum wage on the basis of rising prices.
They demanded pension rights and old-age social security for every citizen.
They called for an awareness campaign on a war footing to educate the masses about the harmful effects of excessive use of sugar, ghee and vegetable oil.
They suggested starting office hours at 7:00 a.m. and closing stores at 7:00 p.m.
They asked to increase public transport to control the rampant use of fuel.
They demanded a 100% tax on soft drinks and cigarettes.
Those who spoke were Karamt Ali from the National Labor Council, Saira Feroz from the United HB Workers Union, Parveen Bano from the Home Based Women Workers Federation, Bakht Zameen from the SITE Labor Forum, Fahad from the Standard Board Workers Action Committee, Saeeda Khatoon from Balida Factory Fire Affecttees Association Comrade Wahid Baloch writer, Zahid Farooq from Urban Resource Center, Akber Narajo from Progressive Pakistan Steel Mill Labor Union, Ayub Qureshi from National Party, Annoshay Alam and Mr. Sharif, social activist, Owasi Jatoi from Group alternative youth and others.