Macro Bites

Macro Bite # 59

3 min read

At least 16 people died in a fire at a chemical factory in Karachi’s Mehran Town on Friday. The incident was yet another reminder of poor labour safety conditions in the country, as the factory only had one exit, and no other fire escapes. These tragedies happen far too often for them to be deemed merely unfortunate. Instead, questions should be asked as to why Pakistan’s labour laws are not implemented in spirit.

This was exactly the question raised just a few months ago by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research on the occasion of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work (28 April). It was noted that even though Sindh has new legislation on this very issue, in the form of the 2017 Sindh Occupational Safety and Health Act, it has yet to apply the law in meaning; be it in terms of factory safety or enforcement of the minimum wage. In fact, it took more than two years after the law was passed for the rules of business to even be designated.

Sindh is not the only province guilty on this issue. Punjab had banned ALL factory inspections for over a decade in the 2000s, while the PTI government in the province also had this ban in place from 2019, before finally lifting it earlier this year. Labour rights is an issue that all provinces and parties across the spectrum need to do better on to avoid tragedies like yesterdays.

Featured Article: What if the one-time Ehsaas cash transfer was to become permanent?

 

WEEKLY DATA WATCH

KSE-100 fell marginally this week, partly due to rupee depreciation and Kabul airport blasts. PKR depreciated further this week, as long-term worries about Pakistan’s current account deficit persist. Local gold prices rose slightly this week due to a rise in international prices.

 

The annual change in Sensitive Price Index rose to 12.67% vs. 13.33% last week. The poorest of the country (Q1) continue to bear the brunt of increased prices, with a change of 15.86% vs. 12.27% for Q5. On a weekly basis, prices rose for all quintiles by 0.22%.

Increase in prices of Chicken (+9.52%) and Onions (+7.55%) contributed to inflation this week. A fall in the price of Tomatoes (-29.88%) and Potatoes (-2.11%) helped moderate inflation. A fall in LPG prices (-2.63%) also lowered weekly inflation numbers.

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What Else We’re Reading (Local)

  • With his sprawling Bahria Towns, Malik Riaz has had a successful career as a real estate developer. His ownership of the Escort Investment Bank, however, hasn’t gone according to plan. (Profit)
  • Local mobile phone production has exceeded cell phone imports in Pakistan. However, most local production still consists of 2G handsets. (Dawn)

What Else We’re Reading (International)

  • Taliban and the United States, two unlikely allies, are finding common ground in the fight against other militant groups like ISIS. (Bloomberg)
  • India, already one of the biggest markets for video surveillance in the world, is now deploying facial recognition technology at various railway stations around the country. (FT)

 

Asad Pabani

Journalist, researcher and documentary filmmaker. Prior works featured in Dawn, Soch Videos and Pioneers Post.

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