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14pc rise in October food inflation

November 14, 2007

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 13: Food inflation surged by more than 14 per cent in October over the same month last year, mostly hitting the down-trodden people, especially salaried class, statistic division data revealed on Tuesday.

This will be the second consecutive increase in food prices in the last two months, owing to higher than expected surge in food prices, particularly fruits, vegetables, milk, meat, poultry and cooking oil during the months under review.

With this surge in food prices, the overall inflation measured through consumer price index (CPI) was up by 9.31 per cent during the month under review over last year.

An increase of 1.23 per cent was recorded in October 2007 over the previous month (September), indicating an upward trend in inflation.

Statistics showed that even food inflation is the highest in Pakistan as compared with India, where it remained below the nine-digit level during the same months.

It showed that essential kitchen items — edible oil, tomato, onion, potatoes, rice, fruits — became expensive.

Non-food inflation remained around four per cent in October for the first time in the last six months due to fuel prices remaining on hold for most of the year.

This capping of fuel prices cost government some billion rupees, but it helped control non-food inflationary pressure on economy.

As global oil prices are on the higher side, Pakistan may allow first increase in fuel prices this year, letting refiners to partly pass on record rise in crude oil costs to consumers, and non-food inflation may rise steeply, hitting the transportation and manufacturing sector.

Economist Dr A R Kemal told Dawn that this highest-ever increase in food inflation may hit the people, who are already below the poverty line.

The impact of 15 per cent increase in salary announced last year has been offset by almost similar range of increase in prices of food items, Mr Kemal said.

He said the money supply recorded more than 19.5 per cent increase last year and will have an impact on core inflation —non-food, non-energy — this year. The core inflation is going to rise, he added.

The State Bank of Pakistan had tightend monetary policy aiming to control the core inflation, which so far yielded results for the government as it remained around five per cent during the period under review.

“I expect that the overall inflation would easily touch the double digit figure in the months ahead, Dr Kemal predicted.

Another alarming bell for the government was that inflation measured through wholesale price index (WPI) — monitor price of commodities at wholesale level — also witnessed highest-ever growth of 11.81 per cent in October over last year’s same month.

This surge in the prices of commodities at the wholesale means that prices of goods would witness a further increase in the months ahead, which would push food inflation to another height.

The statistics showed after food price, cloth and shoes price went up by 8.22 per cent, house rent 7.81 per cent, laundry charges 8.33 per cent, medicare 7.89 per cent, education 4.16 per cent in October 2007 over the same month last year.