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Pakistan Church struggling with rising inflation

Parishes and educational institutions are worst hit since the rupee crossed 200 against the US dollar to hit an all-time low

Women activists of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party protest about rising inflation in Karachi on June 11

Women activists of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party protest about rising inflation in Karachi on June 11. (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 14, 2022 10:04 AM GMT

Updated: June 14, 2022 11:20 AM GMT

Church leaders in Pakistan are struggling to run parishes and educational institutions as inflation has touched record levels.

“We don’t have resources and expenditure is increasing. The salaries are low and we can’t increase school fees," Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad told UCA News.

The prelate was speaking on the sidelines of a five-day annual budget meeting that got underway at the bishop’s house on June 13.

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The nation’s currency losing its value — the Pakistani rupee has slumped to an all-time low of 205.50  against the US dollar — has had a big impact on church-run institutions.

“We have been affected very badly. The whole team is scratching their heads. We are the only diocese in the country that tries to follow the budget. But this time we are worried about how to draft it,” Bishop Shukardin said.

Financial markets have taken a hit since the coalition government unveiled a 9.5-trillion-rupee federal budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 in the National Assembly last week amid strict conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the revival of its $6-billion loan program.

A member of the National Assembly offers support once in a while as the churches have no direct link with the government. The government should think of vulnerable groups and how to help them in a transparent way"

The government also increased the defense budget by nearly 6 percent to over 1.45 trillion rupees in a bid to meet the needs of the armed forces, including their enhanced salary requirements.

The budget allocations for vulnerable communities included 62 million rupees for the Pakistan Minorities Welfare Fund and 83 million rupees for the Special Fund for Welfare and Uplift of Minorities.

Bishop Shukardin is not enthused. “Sadly, the allocated money never reaches us. A member of the National Assembly offers support once in a while as the churches have no direct link with the government. The government should think of vulnerable groups and how to help them in a transparent way,” he said.

Meanwhile, consumer price index-based inflation rose in May to 13.8 percent year on year, the highest in two-and-a-half years.

Father Younas Riaz, parish priest of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church of Chak (village) No. 17 in Mianwali of Punjab province, has been posting sarcastic posts on Facebook since the government increased the price of petrol by 60 rupees per liter last month.

“What a move, IMF. Have mercy, Mr. Prime Minister,” he stated, referring to the prolonged power outages.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said on June 13 that if the government does not abolish subsidies on petroleum products by July, then the country will default.

He claimed to have told Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to take a tough decision in order to avoid becoming another Sri Lanka.

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UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
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