ISLAMABAD: Annual short-term inflation remained above 40 per cent for the second week in a row, mainly driven by a massive increase in gas prices, official data showed on Friday.

The inflation reading was 41.13pc for the week ending Nov 23, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) said, as gas prices stood over 1,100pc higher than a year ago.

After gas, other items whose prices increased the most included cigarettes (94pc), wheat flour (88.2pc), chilli powder (81.7pc), broken basmati rice (76.6pc), garlic (71pc), Irri-6/9 rice (62.3pc), gents’ sponge chappal (58pc), gents’ sandal (53.37pc), branded tea (53pc), gur (50.8pc), and potatoes (47.9pc).

In contrast, the prices of onions dropped 36.2pc year-on-year, followed by tomatoes (-18.1pc), mustard oil (-4pc) and vegetable ghee (-2.9pc).

On a week-on-week basis, however, consumer prices were unchanged in the outgoing week in sharp contrast to the previous week’s reading when the prices skyrocketed 10pc as the hike in gas prices came into effect.

The short-term, or weekly, inflation is measured by a basket of goods and services called the Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI), which currently stands at 308.90 compared to 309.09 in the preceding week.

The index, comprising 51 items collected from 50 markets in 17 cities, is computed weekly to assess the prices of essential commodities and services at shorter intervals.

The PBS data showed that the prices of 18 items increased, those of 12 items decreased and those of 21 items remained stable compared to the previous week.

The items whose prices saw the highest increase week-on-week included garlic (4.6pc), onion (2.4pc), chicken (1.8pc), potatoes (1.7pc), pulse masoor (1.01pc), LPG (0.8pc), firewood (0.6pc), wheat flour (0.54pc), matchbox (0.52pc), pulse moong (0.52pc) and plain bread (0.47pc).

By comparison, the items whose prices dropped the most included tomatoes (-5.8pc), vegetable ghee (-1.4pc), cooking oil (-1.3pc), banana (-0.9pc), vegetable ghee (-0.82pc), eggs (-0.33pc), sugar (-0.2pc) and packed tea (-0.17pc).

On an annual basis, the SPI inflation hit a record 48.35pc in early May but then cooled to as low as 24.4pc in late August before crossing 40pc during the week ending Nov 16.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2023

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