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Pakistanis squeezed by inflation face more pain from tax hikes

When Pakistan’s annual inflation rate hit 11.5% in November, the statistics office put a number on a phenomenon that was already painfully clear to the poor and the salaried middle-class voters who carried Prime Minister Imran Khan to power three years ago. Now the government is preparing to double down on the pain with a belt-tightening budget of tax hikes and spending cuts required to release a $1 billion tranche of International Monetary Fund bailout cash. “I never thought it would become so difficult to survive,” said Sibte Hasan, a 43-year-old construction supervisor from Pakistan’s second-biggest city Lahore. As consumer price inflation has accelerated into double digits, with staples like flour, sugar, oil and rice doubling in price over recent months, the Pakistani rupee has fallen around 14% since May to reach a historic low.

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