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February 28, 2021

Rising inflation

Editorial

 
February 28, 2021

Yet another data set the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) released on Feb 25 shows weekly inflation for the combined group increased by nearly 2.5 percent. This is on the back of an uptick in prices of essential food items recorded from the beginning of this year. Though the trend of rising inflation has continued ever since the current government assumed power in 2018, the recent week-on-week changes have been the highest in this past month. Since the turn of the year, a surging movement has been noticed in the prices of nearly all essential kitchen items. The government’s repeated claims that the prices of consumer items would decline soon have not materialized.

The lowest income groups are the hardest hit as for them the SPI increased nearly seven percent. For those slightly above the lowest income group, the increase was recorded at nearly 1.5 percent. In food items, bananas showed nearly 4.5 percent increase, pulse gram nearly 2.5 percent and chicken nearly 2.2 percent. The same applies to potatoes, mustard oil, ghee, and tea which all showed an upward trend. Among the non-food items electricity charges were the main area where an increase was recorded. Though the prices of tomatoes and onions have eased a bit, their impact overall has been negligible on the lowest income groups. During the last week of February, out of 51 items observed, just five showed a slight easing and the rest either increased or remained at the same high level. This calls for an immediate and effective strategy to tackle the surging inflation. The National Price Monitoring Committee appears to be doing nothing but issuing directions to the Ministry of Industries and Production to look into the rising prices of such items as ghee and cooking oil, but these directions are not producing worthwhile results. It is about time the government took the matter seriously and took prompt measures to check increasing prices. The public cannot bear any more inflation.