–Energy costs in particular have risen sharply, hit by a series of devaluations of the rupee
ISLAMABAD: Consumer price inflation rose in March to its highest since November 2013, adding to economic headwinds besetting Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.
Inflation rose to 9.41 per cent year-on-year, up from 8.21pc in February, Bureau of Statistics data showed on Monday, lifted by sharp rises in food, fuel and transport costs that have squeezed household budgets.
On Friday, the central bank lifted its key policy rate by 50 basis points to 10.75pc, citing continuing inflationary pressures as well as high fiscal and current account deficits.
Consumer price inflation has jumped sharply over the past year, climbing from under 4 percent at the start of 2018.
Energy costs in particular have risen sharply, hit by a series of a devaluations of the rupee, and the government on Sunday announced a 6 rupee rise in petrol prices to 98.88 rupees a litre.
Pakistan’s currency has lost over a quarter of its value over the past year.
As per the PBS data, the prices of food items that witnessed an increase on a month-on-month basis included onions (39.28pc), fresh vegetables (24.43pc), tomatoes (18.83pc), chicken (15.88pc), pulse moong (12.68pc), fresh fruits (12.52pc), gur (2.88pc), sugar (2.74pc), beans (1.23pc), fish (1.18pc), spices (0.91pc), pulse gram (0.60pc), vegetable ghee (0.58pc), rice (0.41pc), pulse masoor (0.31pc), bakery & confectionary (0.31pc), cigarettes (0.27pc), wheat flour (0.20pc), cooking oil (0.18pc), tea (0.17pc), milk fresh (0.17pc) and wheat (0.16pc).
On the other hand, food items that witnessed a MoM decrease included eggs (6.32pc), potatoes (5.00pc), betel leaves & nuts (2.09pc), gram whole (0.70pc) and wheat (0.41pc).
A MoM increase was also witnessed in non-food items including text book (3.95pc), cotton cloth (2.30pc), medical equipment (2.24pc), motor fuel (1.54pc), kerosene oil (1.51pc), household servant (1.35pc), plastic products (1.32pc), stationery (1.18pc), drugs and medicines (1.16pc), construction wage rates (1.16pc), education (1.00pc), transport services (0.97pc), personal equipment (0.96pc), construction input items (0.79pc) and motor vehicle (0.67pc).
On a year-on-year basis, food items increased by up to 315.3pc, as the price of tomatoes increased 315.30pc, fresh vegetables 28.18pc, pulse moong 22.69pc, sugar 18.20pc, spices 17.66pc, gur 17.18pc, onions 15.85pc, honey 15.23pc, cigarettes 14.73pc, meat 13.33pc, dry fruits 11.75pc, beans 10.09pc, pulse gram 9.87pc, eggs 8.30pc, sweet meat 8.28pc, milk powder 8.07pc, fish 8.02pc, tea 7.87pc, condiments 7.43pc, vegetable ghee 7.18pc and rice 5.11pc.
On the other hand, prices of products that registered a YoY decrease included betel leaves & nuts (37.02pc), potatoes (15.57pc), gram whole (5.15pc), fresh fruits (1.38pc) and chicken (1.20pc).
Core inflation measured by non-food non-energy CPI (Core NFNE) increased by 8.5pc on YoY basis in March 2019 as compared to an increase of 8.8pc in the previous month and 5.8pc in March 2018.
On MoM basis, it increased by 0.5pc in March 2019 as compared to an increase of 0.2pc in the previous month, and an increase of 0.7pc in the corresponding month of last year.
Core inflation, measured by 20pc weighted trimmed mean CPI (Core Trimmed) increased by 7.9pc on a YoY basis in March 2019 as compared to 7.7pc in the previous month and by 4.1pc in March 2018.
On MoM basis, it increased by 0.4pc in March 2019 as compared to an increase of 0.2pc in the previous month and an increase of 0.2pc in the corresponding month of last year.
It is pertinent to mention that the country has been in talks with the International Monetary Fund on what would be its 13th bailout since the late 1980s.
Finance Minister Asad Umer told the Financial Times last week that an agreement was likely by May but officials say there are still wide differences over issues ranging from lifting exchange rate controls to bringing down the twin deficits.
Khan’s government has however secured loans over $8 billion from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China besides credit oil facility on deferred payment of $3 billion each from Riyadh and the UAE.