Pakistan’s inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), surged to a record-breaking 31.5 per cent in February, largely driven by steep price hikes in food, housing, and transportation groups. This concerning development was recently reported by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), and has heightened expectations of an increase in interest rates during the upcoming monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting, which the central bank has scheduled for March 2.
The February inflation rate marks the highest figure since available data dating back to July 1965, surpassing the previous record of slightly over 29 per cent in April 1975. The unexpected pace of price increases has surpassed the finance ministry’s expectations, who had projected an inflation range of 28 per cent to 30 per cent just a day before the report.
According to Geo, the monthly inflation rate surged by 4.3 per cent in February compared to January, primarily due to increased average prices of food items such as poultry, fruits, pulses, oil, vegetables, ghee, LPG, gas charges, and domestic petroleum products.
The inflation reading raises concerns that the government will need to review its strategy to secure the critical $1.1 loan tranche from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Despite repeated efforts, the government has been unable to regain lost ground with the IMF and is continually delivering financial shocks to the people.
According to PBS, the inflation rate rose in both urban and rural areas. Urban inflation increased to 28.8 per cent in February, while rural inflation soared to 35.6 per cent compared to the same month last year. In February of the previous year, urban inflation was recorded at 11.5 per cent, while rural inflation was at 13.3 per cent.
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