Weekly inflation sees highest increase in three months

Published November 13, 2021
For the lowest income group earning below Rs17,732 per month, the SPI increased by 1.55pc. — AFP/File
For the lowest income group earning below Rs17,732 per month, the SPI increased by 1.55pc. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Friday reversed its earlier decision and asked the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to continue releasing weekly statistics on inflation, a senior official in the Planning Division told Dawn.

In the wake of this decision, the PBS released its weekly data on essential food items on Friday which shows that inflation measured through sensitive price index (SPI) edged up by 1.81 per cent for the week ended on Nov 11 from previous week. It reflects the highest increase on a week-on-week basis in the past three months.

In January, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had launched the Decision Support System for Inflation (DSSI) to record and monitor prices of essential commodities in 17 major cities.

The DSSI was monitoring the performance of deputy commissioners in these cities in terms of implementation of their price lists commonly known as DC rates of essential food items and a subsequent ranking of better governance will be released each Thursday.

Govt directs PBS to release SPI data

PBS has ranked the provinces in terms of the gap between market prices of food items and those set by district administrations. The exercise is aimed at highlighting issues of governance in controlling the prices.

The system continued until it showed poor governance in terms of price control in Sindh. However, it was discontinued owing to pressure from bureaucrats as well as politicians, an official who is not willing to be quoted told Dawn.

The desperate government in failing to control inflation resorted to stopping official statistics which confirms the highest increase in prices of essential food and non-food inflation. As a result of pressure from opposition parties, the Cabinet Division had recently asked the PBS to continue the practice of releasing the weekly inflation data.

One of the main critics of the government’s discontinuation of weekly inflation data was Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Withholding weekly statistics of the bureau of statistics regarding inflation would be tantamount to hoodwinking the people, Mr Bilawal had said.

Hiding inflation statistics from the public will not reduce inflation in the country, he said, adding instead of hiding the inflation statistics, the government should end rewarding the mafias and stop corruption. Even in dictatorial periods, no attempt was made to hide the statistics regarding inflation from the people, the PPP chairman concluded.

The data released on Friday showed the sixth consecutive week that inflation witnessed an upward increase. In October, the highest jump of 1.29pc in weekly inflation was recorded.

For the lowest income group earning below Rs17,732 per month, the SPI increased by 1.55pc and for the group earning above Rs44,175, it rose by 1.79pc.

This was mainly due to an increase in prices of essential items including tomatoes 18.70pc, diesel 6.04pc, petrol 5.78pc, cooking oil 5 litre 4.27pc, vegetable ghee 2.5 kg 3.37pc, vegetable ghee 1kg 3.28pc, banana 3.04pc, bread 2.84pc, electricity for Q1 2.74pc, eggs 1.82pc, potatoes 1.77pc, washing soap 1.58pc, onions 1.51pc, energy saver 1.30pc and mustard oil 1.21pc.

The items whose prices decreased during the week included sugar 9.35pc, pulse mash 0.45pc, pulse moong 0.42pc, pulse gram 0.29pc, wheat flour bag 0.26pc and garlic 0.04pc.

During the week, out of 51 items, prices of 30 items increased six items decreased and 15 items remained constant.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2021

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