Macro Bites

Macro Bite # 69

2 min read
Smog has taken over the skies of Lahore for the past couple of weeks, in a now-annual tradition of Pakistanis struggling just to breathe. This tradition usually coincides with the revival of our favourite go-to question—can we blame India for this? The government is certainly trying, but objective analysis reveals otherwise.

Arguably the biggest contributor to our air quality woes is vehicle emissions, with the large number of diesel-powered cars and lack of mass transit particularly to blame. Other key factors are biomass and crop burnings, as well as industrial emissions.

What I find particularly troubling, however, is the immensely low bar that our government sets itself for air quality levels in the first place. First, take a look at the air quality standards of the US government, which are in line with WHO guidelines. Next, witness the standards of the Government of Punjab as set out in the Smog Act of 2017. Same colours, vastly different AQI values.

WEEKLY DATA WATCH

KSE-100 fell this week, due to the value of PKR falling to an all-time low. PKR depreciated this week, due to uncertainty over IMF assistance for the country. Local gold prices rose sharply this week, in line with international prices.

The annual change in Sensitive Price Index rose to 17.37% vs. 15.21% last week. The poorest of the country (Q1) continue to bear the brunt of increased prices, with a change of 18.62% vs. 17.67% for Q5. On a weekly basis, prices rose for all quintiles by 1.81%.

Increase in prices of Electricity (+2.74%), Petrol (+5.78%) and Milk (+0.33%) contributed to weekly inflation. A fall in the price of Sugar (-9.35%) and Wheat (-0.26%) helped moderate inflation this week.

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What Else We’re Reading (Local)

  • Developed nations have a responsibility to provide climate financing to help developing countries such as Pakistan make the transition to cleaner energy sources. (Profit)
  • In an effort to contain the fiscal deficit, the federal government spent just 37% of the budget allocated to the Public Sector Development Program in Q1 FY22. (Business Recorder)

What Else We’re Reading (International)

  • The humanitarian façade of the European Union is crumbling as it deploys troops to force back refugees on its borders. (WSJ)
  • FW de Klerk, the last South African president of the apartheid era, died this week. (FT)

Asad Pabani

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

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