Sunday May 19, 2024

Weekly inflation down by 0.78pc but still far above last year’s level

In the previous week, the SPI on year-on-year basis was 39.22 percent

By Israr Khan
February 17, 2024
Vendors are selling vegetables at the fruits and vegetable market in the Federal Capital on February 6, 2024. — Online
Vendors are selling vegetables at the fruits and vegetable market in the Federal Capital on February 6, 2024. — Online

ISLAMABAD: The Sensitive Price Index (SPI) inflation eased slightly in the week ending February 15, but still remained high compared to the same period last year, as food and energy prices continued to soar, official data showed on Friday.

The SPI, which tracks the weekly changes in the prices of 51 essential items, fell 0.78 percent from the previous week, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). However, the SPI rose 34.25 percent year-on-year, indicating the persistent pressure on the cost of living in the country.

In the previous week, the SPI on year-on-year basis was 39.22 percent. The PBS's latest SPI snapshot that gauges mostly kitchen items and its data from 17 urban centers, revealed an increase in prices of 22 items, a decline in 11 items and no change in 18 items.

In a span of one week, prices of bananas went up by 4.64 percent to Rs127 per dozen, potatoes 2.8 percent to Rs56/kg, matchbox 1.31 percent to Rs6.18/box, long cloth 1.3 percent to Rs573/meter, cooked dal 0.8 percent to Rs144/plate, shirting (average quality) 0.63 percent to Rs421/meter, moong pulse 0.56 percent to Rs309/kg, rice basmati (broken) 0.56 percent to Rs225/kg, mutton (average quality) 0.5 percent to Rs1751/kg, cooked beef 0.39 percent to Rs276/plate and mash pulse by 0.35 percent to Rs549/kg.

However, on a week-on-week basis, prices of eggs fell by 29 percent to Rs280/dozen, chicken farm (live) by 4.23 percent to Rs449/kg, onions by 3.5 percent to Rs202/kg, LPG 11.67kg cylinder by 2.85 percent to Rs3,246. Similarly, the gur price was reduced by 1.13 percent to Rs208/kg, wheat flour bag of 20kg by 0.32 percent to Rs2801. Tomatoes price was also reduced by 0.3 percent to Rs108/kg and masoor pulse was reduced by 0.28 percent to Rs336/kg over the previous week.

The PBS has classified income brackets into five quintiles, each corresponding to specific levels of the Sensitive Price Index (SPI). In the lowest quintile, comprising individuals earning up to Rs17,732 per month, the SPI stood at 28.68 percent. For those in the highest income bracket, spending more than Rs44,175 per month, the SPI was recorded at 32.08 percent. Meanwhile, individuals falling within the middle quintile, with incomes ranging from Rs22,889 to Rs29,517, experienced an SPI of 38.54 percent.

Critics suggest that these income quintiles, particularly those with lower incomes, may not accurately reflect the socioeconomic reality, citing the fact that Pakistan's minimum wage is Rs35,000 per month. They advocate for a revision of these income brackets to better capture the true economic landscape.

A significant feature of the weekly bulletin was that the year-on-year increase in the prices of some necessities and kitchen items was exorbitant. Notable among these are gas charges for Q1 (1108.6 percent), tomatoes (134 percent), chilies powder (81.7 percent), cigarettes (77 percent), wheat flour (66 percent), gents’ sponge chappal (58 percent), sugar (55 percent), gents’ sandals (53 percent) and gur by 49 percent. Similarly, salt powder price increased by 40 percent, tea Lipton by 33 percent, garlic by 32 percent, and rice IRRI-6/9 by 30 percent.

Besides, mash pulse and garlic were expensive by 32 percent each, basmati rice broken by 27 percent, potatoes by 25 percent, powder milk by 22 percent, fresh milk and masoor pulse by 20 percent each, and electricity charges for Q1 were expensive by 15.44 percent over prices in the same week of last year.

Whereas, year-on-year prices witnessed a decrease in bananas (18 percent), mustard oil (16 percent), vegetable ghee 1-KG (15 percent), cooking oil and vegetable ghee by 10 percent. LPG was more expensive by 8.5 percent over last year.