According to recent reports, the finance ministry’s expectations of high inflation were met due to market frictions caused by the relative demand and supply gap of essential items, exchange rate depreciation, and recent upward adjustment of administered prices of petrol and diesel. However, there was a monthly decline in the inflation rate, which dropped to 3.7 per cent in March compared to February.
Despite this, the inflation situation has worsened significantly over the months, causing mass distress due to the high prices of almost every edible item. The core inflation rate, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, increased in March to 18.6 per cent in urban areas and 23.1 per cent in rural areas. Experts believe that Pakistan is now heading towards hyperinflation, where prices are out of control and expected to surge by 50 per cent.
The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported that the inflation rate in rural areas reached 38.9 per cent, while it surged to 33 per cent in the cities. Food inflation rose sharply to 50.2 per cent in rural areas and increased to 47.1 per cent in urban areas last month. Supply chain disruptions and weak checks have led to a substantial rise in the food inflation rate.
Unfortunately, both the federal and provincial governments are unable to provide steady essential food supplies, and the prices of most consumer goods remain out of reach for the people. This surge in prices coincides with a significant economic slowdown, and poverty and unemployment levels are rising.
A majority of the surge in prices was seen in rural areas where income levels were already low. The food group prices rose by 47.15 per cent in March compared to the same month last year. Both perishable and non-perishable food items witnessed unprecedented increases in prices.
The Wholesale Price Index (WPI), which monitors prices in the wholesale market, also rose sharply to 37.5 per cent in March compared to 23.8 per cent in the same month last year. The inflation rate has remained above 20 per cent since June after the coalition government curtailed imports.
The overall inflation rate recorded an increase in both urban and rural areas, with urban areas surging to 33 per cent in March, while rural areas soared to 38.9 per cent over the same month last year. In March last year, the inflation rate in urban areas was 11.9 per cent, while in rural areas, it stood at 13.9 per cent.
The non-food inflation rate increased to 24.1 per cent in urban areas and 28.5 per cent in rural areas compared to 10.4 per cent and 12.5 per cent in the same month last year. Prices of non-perishable food items surged by 46.44 per cent on an annualized basis, and the prices of perishable goods surged by 51.81 per cent year-on-year.
Leave a Reply