Name: Aslam Rehmat
Does your spouse/partner live with you? Yes, she lives with me.
What is your primary job? My primary job is junior technician at Dental College, Lahore
What is your monthly salary? My gross monthly salary is 22,000 ($222) Pakistani rupees and after deductions, including taxes, medical insurance, loan installments, and paying back salary advances, I take home Rs18,000 ($182).
What is your household’s total income - including your partner’s salary, and any additional same sources? My wife works as a domestic help at a house from where she gets Rs10,000 ($101) per month . This brings our total monthly income to Rs27,000 ($273).
How many people are living in your household - what is their relationship to you? My wife and our four children live with me in the same house. My parents also share a portion of the house. So the number of residents comes to eight in our house.
How many are dependent on you/your partner's income - what is their relationship to you? My wife and children (two daughters and two sons) are directly dependent on my and my wife’s income. I also try to pay some money to my parents on a regular basis though they are not directly dependent on my income.
How much do you spend each month on food? Earlier we used to spend around Rs7,000 ($71) but for the last few months it is about Rs8,000 or Rs8,500 ($86). from $74
What is your main staple - how much does it cost each month?Our main staple is wheat and rice and it costs us about Rs3,500 ($35). We spend almost half of that amount on each, because we are buying more wheat and lower-quality rice to save money. A 5kg bag of flour costs Rs 185 ($1.87), and lasts us 2-3 days. A 5kg bag of rice costs Rs700 ($7.10), and lasts us about a week. We cook it now just 2-3 times a week, as it is expensive. wheat costs us about $10.50 for 20kg and rice costs us $21 for 30kg
How much do you spend on rent? I own a small inherited house in a locality of Lahore, so I don’t have to pay any rent.
How much on transport?My minimum expenditure on transport is Rs 100 per day, i.e., Rs3,000 ($30) per month.
How much do you spend on educating your children each month?Probably the biggest chunk of our income goes to the education of my children: 11,500 [$116] per month (1,500 for my youngest daughter’s school fees, and 5,000 each for my elder son and daughter’s college fees)
After you have paid all your bills each month, how much is left? Our utility bills for the house are Rs8,000-9,000 ($81-91) each month. So after paying the bills we are left with Rs18,000-19,000 ($182-192) every month.
Have you or any member of the household been forced to skip meals or reduce portion sizes in the last three months? We have not skipped any meal but we have definitely cut down on items like meat and fruits.
Have you been forced to borrow money (or food) in the last three months to cover basic household needs? We have to borrow money almost every month.
“The financial situation is hard. Until recently, I was doing part-time work as well as my regular job to manage. That added to the stress, which is one reason I am glad it has ended even though our income has fallen. Maybe later I will try to find some other work. My father retired last month from his job as a gardener, and now I feel more obliged to help my parents. He used to earn about 3,500 Pakistan rupees (Rs) [US$35] and this helped meet some costs. But he is too old and too weak now, and has hearing issues which means he cannot really work since he can’t hear instructions.
“My mother is diabetic and has been hospitalized twice recently, taking a lot out of our budget. Even now, we pay at least Rs2,000 [$20] each month for her medicines, which include insulin. My brother helps with this. The system under which the government is supposed to provide free medicines simply does not work.
“My children’s education is a big worry. I want them to be well educated, but it is hard to pay the fees. We, however, have more hope for the future because my eldest son, after doing his Bachelor of Science, got a job for Rs25,000 [$253] a month at a prestigious school. Right now, this money is going to pay for his fees for further education, as he is doing a Masters in Philosophy, but things will improve for us when our elder children’s earnings begin to come home. “My son is also searching for part-time work, with his job and studies. We are very proud of him. He was recently asked to speak at a conference on teaching as well and has been given more responsibilities at work. Hopefully his pay will also increase soon.
“My eldest daughter who is close to graduating is also looking for some work. We have begun thinking about her marriage, as she is in her early 20s, and the costs of this have to be thought about too. But she will probably work for some time before this, as we want to find a good husband for her, and this is never easy.
“These thoughts are putting more strain on us. I have had to take out all my savings and get loans from my office to fund the studies of my children. I have to repay the loan I took, mainly to pay for extra tuition for my younger son who did not do well in his exams this term.
“Occasions like Easter also mean extra costs, because we, as Christians, need to buy new clothes, entertain guests and so on.
“Now the elections are going to be held next month. People say the same old faces will turn up again in the assemblies. If the old parties come into power again, then there is no hope for people like us.”
*Exchange rate as of 26 June, with US$1 trading at 99 Pakistani rupees