ISLAMABAD: Inflation in Pakistan surged to a record 36.4 per cent in April from a year earlier, driven mainly by skyrocketing food prices and rising energy costs, official data showed on Tuesday.

The finance ministry in its recent report projected that inflation would rem­ain in the range of 36-38pc mainly due to the rupee’s depreciation and rising administered prices, which contributed to the increase in overall prices.

The lower-income segment of the society is already feeling the brunt of high inflation, which has become unrelenting on the back of political instability, financial mismanagement and delay in an agre­ement with the Interna­tional Monetary Fund.

According to a finance ministry report, slow rec­o­very from the flood-led damages had caused the supply of essential crops to remain short of domestic requirements, consequently intensifying inflation. On the other hand, the central bank was enac­ting contractionary monetary policy, “but inflationary expectations are not settling down”, it said.

Monthly inflation — measured by a basket of products and services called the Consumer Price Index (CPI) — stayed above 20pc for the 11th month from June to April. It then hit 31.6pc in February, crossed 35pc in March and now further escalated to 36.4pc. The reading was 13.4pc in April last year.

However, when compared to the previous month, inflation edged up 2.4pc in April, data showed. Higher prices of food, cooking oil and transportation pushed up the index.

The goods and services in the CPI basket are divided into 12 major components with different weights. Of them, costs in three categories — food and non-alcoholic beverages, transport and recreation and culture — jumped by around half a percentage from a year earlier.

The index for the “alcoholic beverages and tobacco” category saw the highest annual jump, at 133.70pc, though its weight in the CPI is less than 1pc compared to food’s 30.42pc.

Annual food inflation in April was 46.8pc and 52.2pc for urban and rural areas, respectively, data said. Moreover, annual non-food inflation in April was 24.9pc and 29.9pc for urban and rural areas, respectively.

Core inflation, which strips out food and energy, stood at 19.5pc in urban areas and 24.9pc in rural areas.

Overall inflation in urban and rural areas increased to 33.5pc and 40.7pc year-on-year, respectively.

With the latest increase in CPI, average inflation has reached 28.23pc in 10 months (July to April) this fiscal year compared to 11.04pc in the previous year.

Main contributors

In the food group, the items whose prices increased the most in April compared to last year were tea (108.76pc), wheat flour (106.7pc), wheat (103.52pc), eggs (100.88pc), rice (87.86pc), potatoes (76.87pc), pulse moong (57.19pc), pulse mash (56.38pc), gram whole (55.55pc), onion (51.87pc), besan (51.17pc), dry fruits (49.06pc), pulse gram (48.41pc), beans (47.45pc), chicken (43.13pc), bakery and confectionary (42.5pc) and sugar (42.14pc).

In the non-food category, the items whose prices saw the highest increase were textbooks (106.83pc), stationery (83.73pc), motor fuel (75.43pc), gas charges (62.82pc), washing soap/detergents/matchbox (60.41pc), motor vehicle accessories (42.56pc), motor vehicles (41.51pc), household equipment (40.94pc), construction input items (37.23pc), marriage hall charges (32.89pc), solid fuel (31.96pc), personal grooming services (31.89pc), cotton cloth (31.46pc), electricity charges (30.84pc), plastic products (30.59pc), transport services (28.77pc), mechanical services (25.02pc), cleaning and laundering (24.28pc), doctor (MBBS) clinic fee (21.55pc) and tailoring (21.22pc).

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2023

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