Saturday May 25, 2024

Weekly inflation drops, kitchen costs fall

By Israr Khan
April 20, 2024
Vendors are selling vegetables at a market in Lahore on March 26, 2023. — Online
Vendors are selling vegetables at a market in Lahore on March 26, 2023. — Online

ISLAMABAD: The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI), a barometer of weekly inflation for essential household items, fell by 0.79 percent in the week ending April 18, signaling a notable easing in the cost of kitchen items, latest data showed on Friday.

The decline was driven by significant price drops in key commodities such as wheat flour, LPG, ghee, oil, and other kitchen items. The SPI monitors the prices of 51 essential items weekly across 50 markets in 17 cities nationwide. Out of these items, 22 registered price hikes, 11 witnessed a decrease, and 18 remained stable over the week.

During the week, the SPI rose 28.54 percent over the same week of last year, fueled by a 570 percent hike in gas prices for the lowest consumer's slab, followed by a 155 percent spike in onion prices.

The latest snapshot of SPI, issued by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), outlined notable reductions in prices over the previous week, including a drop of 8.97 percent in wheat flour prices to Rs2,328 per 20kg bag, a 2.84 percent decline in LPG prices to Rs3,254 per 11.67kg cylinder, and a decrease of 6.67 percent in egg prices to Rs257 per dozen.

Similarly, the bananas' price went down by 8.67 percent to Rs164/dozen, electricity charges for Q1 by 7.16 percent to Rs6.87/unit, and onion's by 1.4 percent to Rs199/kg, chilies powder by 1.3 percent to Rs395/200gm packet, cooking oil 5 litres by 0.45 percent to Rs2,617, masoor pulse by 0.43 percent to Rs329/kg and vegetable ghee 2.5 Kg's price reduced by 0.34 percent to Rs1,280.

Conversely, certain items experienced price increases, with potatoes up by 17 percent to Rs78 per kg, tomatoes by 12.7 percent to Rs117 per kg, and chicken (live) by 11.6 percent to Rs516 per kg. Likewise, prices of lawn printed and shirting increased by 3.55 percent each to Rs590/meter and Rs452/meter respectively. Garlic prices went up by 2.9 percent to Rs605/kg, diesel by 2.87 percent to Rs291.4/liter, beef by 2.56 percent to Rs913/kg, georgette by 1.9 percent to Rs275/meter, mash pulse by 1.6 percent to Rs545/kg, cooked beef by 1.3 percent to Rs280/plate and sugar price increased by 1.1 percent to Rs144/kg.

For the lowest income group earning less than Rs17,732 per month, there was a weekly decrease of 0.71 percent, while the highest income group earning over Rs44,175 per month saw a fall of 0.7 percent. Yearly, the SPI for the lowest income group increased by 21.7 percent, while the highest income group recorded a rise of 25.98 percent.

Likewise, tomato prices year-on-year increased by 127 percent and chilies powder by 84 percent. Gents' sandals also became expensive by 67 percent, garlic by 66 percent, gents' sponge chappal by 58 percent, salt powder by 32 percent, chicken by 31 percent, energy saver by 30 percent, gur by 28 percent, and mash pulse became expensive by 26 percent over the prices of the same week of the last year.

However, year-on-year decreases in prices of some items were also noted. These include bananas, which became cheaper by 35 percent, 5-liter cooking oil by 21 percent, 2.5 Kg vegetable ghee by 18 percent, 1 Kg vegetable ghee by 18 percent, mustard oil by 14 percent, and wheat flour by 11 percent. Additionally, LPG prices were reduced by 6.1 percent, eggs by 4.5 percent, and diesel by 0.85 percent compared to the same week's prices of the previous year.

In March 2024, the benchmark monthly inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), decelerated to 20.7 percent, marking a significant decrease from the multi-decade high of 38 percent recorded in May 2023.