Rehan Ahmed
Rehan Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: The pace of price increases eased slightly in November, taking the annual consumer inflation down to 23.8 per cent from 26.6pc a month earlier, official data showed on Thursday.

The most noticeable change was observed in the prices of perishable food items, whose costs rose 41pc year-on-year in November compared to 70.5pc in October, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

Month-on-month inflation also slowed to 0.8pc in November from 4.7pc in the previous month, as prices of perishable foods — such as fruit and vegetable — fell 5pc compared to a hike of 20pc a month ago.

However, the annual figure of 23.8pc remains at multi-year highs and above 20pc for the sixth month in a row. It was also way above 11.5pc in November last year.

Consumer Price Index eases to 23.8pc in Nov from 26.6pc month ago

The annual inflation — measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) — was within expectations, as the finance ministry said in its monthly outlook released earlier this week that inflation would decline marginally in November while staying in a range of 23pc-25pc.

Besides, urban and rural inflation increased to 21.6pc and 27.2pc year-on-year, respectively. Core inflation for urban and rural areas measured by non-food, non-energy increased to 14.6pc and 18.5pc year-on-year, respectively, in November.

The inflation data comes days after the central bank unexpectedly hiked policy rates by 100 basis points to 16pc, the highest in several years, as it sought to prevent inflation from becoming entrenched.

In a briefing after the rate hike on Friday, the bank said the country was facing a wage-price spiral which could lead to long-term inflation, adding that “inflationary pressures have proven to be stronger and more persistent than expected”.

The country, which is reeling from devastating floods that are estimated to have caused over $30 billion of damage, has been facing a balance-of-payments crisis with fast-depleting foreign reserves and a widening current account deficit.

Annual CPI inflation has been on the rise after fuel prices skyrocketed since the last week of May, as the new coalition government scrapped costly fuel subsidies to tame the surging fiscal deficit and revive a stalled International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme.

Inflation in November was driven by a double-digit annual increase in almost all sub-indices. Categories whose prices rose the most in November were transport (44.2pc), perishable foods (41pc), alcoholic beverages and tobacco (35.9pc), non-perishable foods (29.3pc), furnishing and household equipment maintenance (29.1pc), and restaurants and hotels (28.4pc).

Apart from the CPI, short-term inflation measured by the Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) dropped to 27.1pc year-on-year in November from 24pc a month ago. Likewise, the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation also fell to 27.7pc from 32.6pc a month ago.

Official data showed that food inflation remained higher in November at 29.7pc year-on-year in urban areas and 33.5pc in rural areas, though both figures were slightly down from a month ago.

In urban areas, food items whose prices rose in November compared to the same month last year included onions (284.87pc), gram whole (63.49pc), tea (62.18pc), pulse gram (56.19pc), besan (56.1pc), butter (53.05pc), pulse mash (47.76pc), pulse moong (46.29pc), mustard oil (44.69pc), wheat (43.4pc), cooking oil (41.88pc), dessert preparation (40.1pc), rice (39.75pc), and pulse masoor (38.73pc).

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2022

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