ISLAMABAD: The rate of consumer inflation shot back up to 24.5pc in Dec — after a temporary decline to 23.8pc in Nov — affecting the country’s rural population the most, as prices escalated by almost 29pc.

The average six-month (July-December 2022) inflation increased to 25.02pc when compared to the same period in the previous year. It was more pronounced at about 28pc for rural areas — home to more than two-thirds of the population – compared to their urban counterparts who faced 21.6pc inflation in Dec, and average of 23.1pc over six months.

The monthly data for Dec 2022, reported by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), showed that all the groups that form the national consumer price index (CPI) showed an upward trend, except for perishable food items. But the most damaging impact was in the shape of 35.5pc food inflation in Dec 2022 and the increase in rate of prices of perishable items was even higher (56pc) in December 2022 when compared to December 2021.

The PBS said the general inflation CPI increased to 24.5pc on a year-on-year (YoY) basis in Dec 2022 as compared to an increase of 23.8pc in the previous month. The CPI general had dropped last month to 23.8pc from a peak of 26.6pc in October, but the decline remained short lived.

Everything, except perishable food items, became more expensive in last month of 2022

Urban inflation increased to 21.6pc on a YoY basis in Dec 2022 as compared to an increase of 21.6pc in the previous month and 12.7pc in Dec 2021. The rural CPI, on the other hand, spiked to 28.8pc on year-on-year basis in Dec 2022 as compared to an increase of 27.2pc in the previous month and 11.6pc in Dec 2021.

The increase in the pace of inflation was generally in line with the expectations of the Ministry of Finance, which forecasts average annual inflation between 21-23pc.

Core inflation (urban) that is measured after excluding volatile food and energy prices, increased to 14.7pc year on year basis in Dec 2022 as compared to an increase of 14.6pc in the previous month and 8.3pc in Dec 2021.

On a month-on-month (MoM) basis, it increased by 1.2pc in Dec 2022 as compared to an increase of 0.8pc in previous month, and an increase of 1.1pc in corresponding month of last year i.e. Dec, 2021.

Inflation (Rural) increased to 19pc on a YoY basis in Dec, 2022 as compared to an increase of 18.5pc in the previous month and 8.9pc in Dec, 2021. On a MoM basis, it increased by 1.5pc in Dec 2022 as compared to an increase of 2.1pc in previous month, and an increase of 1.1pc in corresponding month of last year i.e. Dec, 2021.

PBS data showed that the prices of most of the food items went up and significantly. Some of the major food commodities which became costlier by December 2022 over same month of last year included onions (414.98 to 463.5pc), tea (63.81pc), wheat (57.26pc), eggs (54.38pc), gram whole (53.18pc), rice (46.61pc), besan (46.41pc), pulse gram (45.2pc), chicken (43.76pc), pulse moong (42.82pc), mustard oil (41.48pc), wheat flour (40.58pc), pulse mash (38.28pc), cooking oil (31.97pc), vegetable ghee (30.07pc), milk fresh (26pc), potatoes (24.72pc), dry fruits (36.25pc), fresh fruits (33.94pc) and pulse masoor (24.61pc).

On the other hand, the prices of condiments and spices went down by 8.05pc and gur 2.68pc in Dec 2022 when compared to a year earlier.

Among the non-food, the prices of items showing increase included motor fuel (49.45pc), washing soap/detergents/match box (46.65pc), stationery (46.56pc), construction input items (30.59pc), motor vehicle accessories (29.36pc), solid fuel (28.62pc), woolen readymade garments (24.12pc), household servant (20.46pc) and construction wage rates (13.7pc).

On a MoM basis, the prices of top food commodities showing increase in December 2022 over November were fresh fruits (13.36pc), onions (9.99pc), eggs (9.71pc), wheat (9.45pc), dry fruits (8.84pc), rice (5.85pc), chicken (5.43pc), beans(3.81pc), wheat flour (3.66pc), sugar (3.12pc), milk fresh (1.51pc) and pulse moong (0.32pc).

Likewise, the prices of non-food items like solid fuel increased by 6.63pc, washing soap/detergents/match box (5.11pc), woolen readymade garments (3.06pc), woolen cloth (2.03pc), stationery (1.91pc), marriage hall charges (1.68pc) and construction input items (1.51pc).

On the other hand, prices of tomatoes decreased by 53.96pc, fresh vegetables (24.89pc), potatoes (21.33pc), besan(3.23pc), pulse masoor(2.41pc), pulse gram (2.14pc), vegetable ghee (2.03pc), gram whole (1.9pc), cooking oil (1.39pc), gur (0.31pc) and pulse mash (0.26pc).

Among non-food items, the prices of electricity and motor fuels dropped by 3.34pc and 1.82pc, respectively, from Nov to Dec.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2023

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