The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has released data revealing that short-term inflation based on the Sensitive Price Index (SPI) rose to a record 45.64 per cent for the combined income group on a year-on-year basis for the week ending March 16.
This increase was driven by the consistent rise in the prices of essential commodities. However, on a week-on-week basis, short-term inflation increased by 0.96 per cent due to the rising cost of tomatoes, potatoes, cooking oil and fruits.
The SPI is expected to intensify further as the full impact of depreciation, an increase in petroleum products, a hike in general sales tax and higher energy costs has yet to be reflected in official data. Commodity prices are likely to increase rapidly with a spike in demand. The year-on-year SPI surged to 45.5 per cent during the week ending September 1, 2022, and stayed above 40 per cent for the first time since August 18 last year when the reading was 42.31 per cent.
Of the 51 items in the SPI basket, prices of 28 items soared, while those of 11 items decreased, and rates of 12 items remained unchanged. During the week under review, the prices of onions, cigarettes, gas charges for Q1, diesel, tea Lipton, petrol, rice irri-6/9, rice basmati broken, bananas, eggs, pulse moong, wheat flour and bread increased the most over the same week a year ago.
On a week-on-week basis, the biggest change was observed in the prices of tomatoes, tea Lipton, potatoes, bananas, sugar, wheat flour, cooking oil 5 litre, vegetable ghee 2.5 Kg, lawn, diesel, shirting, and petrol. Products whose prices saw the highest decline over the previous week were onions, chicken, garlic, pulse masoor, eggs, LPG, vegetable ghee 1 Kg, pulse gram, pulse mash, pulse moong, and mustard oil.
The government has been taking strict measures, such as hikes in fuel and power tariffs, withdrawal of subsidies, market-based exchange rate, and higher taxation, under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme to generate revenue for bridging the fiscal deficit, which may result in slow economic growth and higher inflation in the coming months. The increase in the policy rate to 20 per cent, general sales tax rate from 17 per cent to 18 per cent on most items, and to 25 per cent on more than 800 imported food and non-food items will further increase the retail prices of consumer goods.
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