Weekly inflation hits six-month high on food, fuel prices

December 09, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The weekly inflation rate rose to the highest level in six months in the week ending December 7, driven by surging food and fuel prices, official data showed on Friday.

The inflation rate, as measured by the Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI), increased by 1.16 percentage points to 42.68 percent from the previous week, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

People are busy in buying vegetables in Sunday weekly bazaar at Shadman area in Lahore. — Online/File

This is the highest inflation rate since the week ending June 1, when it was 43.17 percent. In the previous week, which ended on November 30, the SPI was recorded at 41.05 percent. The persistent double-digit inflation, ongoing since February 2021, is attributed to the impact of a depreciating rupee, elevated commodity prices, and increased energy tariffs. The latest week’s data from PBS indicated a mixed trend in food item prices, with some experiencing reductions while others saw increases.

Key contributors to the price surge included onions, eggs, electricity charges, moong pulse, and sugar, among others. Conversely, prices of tomatoes, potatoes, chicken farm, diesel, rice basmati broken, vegetable ghee, cooking oil, and wheat flour decreased during the same period.

For individuals in the lowest income slab, earning up to Rs17,732 per month, the SPI inflation stood at 34.79 percent, while for those in the group spending more than Rs44,175 per month, it was recorded at 41.11 percent.

The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) exhibited a diverse trajectory over the corresponding weeks of the previous year, according to data. It registered at 37.77 percent during the week ending October 5, followed by 38.28 percent on October 12, 35.45 percent on October 19, 29.65 percent on October 26, and 29.88 percent on November 2. Subsequent readings included 29.86 percent on November 8, 41.9 percent on November 16, 41.13 percent on November 23, and 41.06 percent on November 30. Notably, as of the week ending December 7, the SPI has surged to 42.68 percent, marking a significant increase in comparison to the previous weeks.

According to the weekly bulletin, out of 51 items monitored for price movement, 15 items (29.41 percent) witnessed an increase, 14 items (27.45 percent) recorded a decrease, while prices of 22 items (43.14 percent) remained unchanged.

In a week, notable price hikes were evident in various commodities in Pakistan. Onions surged by 8.4 percent to Rs159 per kilogram, while 14-watt energy savers saw a 3.05 percent increase to Rs349. The cost of eggs rose by 2.5 percent, reaching Rs344 per dozen. Additionally, electricity charges for Q1 experienced a 2.03 percent uptick, reaching Rs7.04 per unit. Moong pulse prices increased by 0.9 percent, settling at Rs281 per kilogram. Similarly, sugar prices escalated by 0.84 percent to Rs135 per kilogram, bananas by 0.67 percent to Rs115 per dozen, firewood by 0.55 percent to Rs1131 per 40 kilograms, LPG by 0.42 percent to Rs3221 per 11.8-kilogram cylinder, and prepared tea by 0.37 percent to Rs57 per cup.

Conversely, prices of certain items decreased during the same week. Tomatoes witnessed a substantial decline of 9.8 percent, reaching Rs118 per kilogram, while potatoes dropped by 4.3 percent to Rs101 per kilogram. Live chicken farm prices decreased by 3 percent, settling at Rs348 per kilogram. Lipton tea recorded a decline of Rs2.6 percent, now priced at Rs588 for a 190-gram pack. Diesel prices also experienced a decrease of 2.3 percent, reaching Rs290.89 per liter. Rice basmati broken saw a 2 percent reduction to Rs222 per kilogram. Additionally, vegetable ghee prices decreased by 0.43 percent to Rs1,333 for a 2.5-kilogram tin, cooking oil by 0.38 percent to Rs2791 for a 5-liter container, wheat flour by 0.35 percent to Rs2820 for a 20-kilogram bag, gram pulse by 0.27 percent to Rs232.5 per kilogram, and 1-kilogram Vegetable Ghee by 0.16 percent to Rs506 per kilogram.