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Pakistan: Weekly inflation jumps to 46.65 pc on record flour price

Karachi: All-time high price of wheat flour pushed weekly inflation in Pakistan up 1.80 per cent week-on-week and 46.65 per cent year-on-year during the seven-day period that ended on March 23, pointing to even tougher times ahead in the country, Geo News reported.
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data issued on Friday attributed the surge in the sensitive price indicator (SPI) to the increase in prices of tomatoes (71.77pc), wheat flour (42.32pc), potatoes (11.47pc), bananas (11.07pc), tea (7.34pc), georgette (2.11pc), lawn (1.77pc), long cloth (1.58pc), pulse mash (1.57pc), prepared tea (1.32pc), and gur (1.03pc). The PBS noted a decrease in the prices of chicken (8.14pc), chilli powder (2.31pc), LPG (1.31pc), mustard oil and garlic (1.19pc) each, pulse gram and onions (1.06pc) each, vegetable ghee 1kg (0.83pc), cooking oil 5 litres (0.21pc), pulse moong (0.17pc), pulse masoor (0.15pc) and eggs (0.03pc), Geo News reported.
For the week under review, the SPI was recorded at 250.66 points against 246.22 points registered last week and 170.92 points recorded during the week ended March 24, 2022.
Fahad Rauf, head of research at Ismail Iqbal Securities in his weekly note said the SPI saw a significant rise primarily due to a 42 per cent increase in the price of a 20kg bag of wheat flour, which has reached an all-time high of PKR 2,586.
On the other hand, prices of chicken have declined 8 pc WoW.
"The major reason behind the increase in wheat price is the change in subsidy mechanism. The government has now shifted from general subsidy to a targeted subsidy through BISP [Benazir Income Support Programme]," he said, adding with the onset of Ramadan, food prices would continue to rise, Geo News reported.
"We expect March 2023 CPI [consumer price index] to come at 35.5pc on a YoY basis," Rauf added.
As per the city-wise breakdown of wheat flour bag prices given by PBS, the essential commodity was the most expensive for residents of Quetta at PKR2,889.99/20kg bag.
The PBS compiles the SPI by collecting prices of 51 essential items from 50 markets in 17 cities of the country.
During the week, out of 51 items, prices of 26 (50.98pc) items increased, 12 (23.53pc) items decreased and prices of 13 (25.49pc) items remained unchanged.
The PBS data attributed the rise in the SPI to the jump in the prices of onions (228.28pc), cigarettes (165.88pc), wheat flour (120.66pc), gas charges for Q1 (108.38pc), diesel (102.84pc), tea (94.60pc), bananas (89.84pc), broken basmati rice (81.22pc), petrol (81.17pc), eggs (79.56pc), pulse moong (68.64pc), potatoes (57.21pc) and pulse mash (56.46pc).
It also noted a decrease in the prices of chilli powder (9.56pc).
Sticky inflation numbers along with the stalled International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, pushed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to raise its benchmark interest rate by 300 basis points to a 26-year high on March 2, 2023.
The central bank is scheduled to meet on April 4 for its monetary policy committee, where it is expected that the policy rate would be raised by another 100 basis points to 21pc.
The expected outcome of the rate hikes includes the spread of massive poverty, Geo News reported. (ANI)

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