Pakistanis catch a break as weekly inflation hits 18-week low

Short-term inflation in Pakistan dipped to 29.06 per cent year-on-year by the week ending March 21, stepping down from its prolonged stint above 30 per cent for the past 18 weeks, as per recent official data.

The pullback in weekly inflation, tracked by the Sensitive Price Index (SPI), was primarily attributed to a drop in the prices of key staples like tomatoes, onions, and potatoes. The SPI noted a 1.13 per cent week-on-week decrease as of March 21, down from 32.89 per cent recorded in the previous week.

This follows an unbroken 11-week stretch of inflation topping 40 per cent, starting from 29 per cent noted on November 8, 2023. The surge was largely fueled by upticks in gas prices, electricity tariffs, and essential kitchen item costs.

Weekly inflation peaked at a record 48.35 per cent year-on-year in early May 2023, before cooling off to as low as 24.4 per cent in late August 2023, only to surge past 40 per cent again by the week ending November 16, 2023.

Among the notable declines in prices on a week-on-week basis were tomatoes (36.73 per cent), onions (19.58 per cent), potatoes (4.02 per cent), garlic (2.87 per cent), pulse mash (1.25 per cent), wheat flour (1.02 per cent), sugar (0.95 per cent), pulse masoor (0.86 per cent), and diesel (0.60 per cent).

Conversely, significant increases were seen in the prices of LPG (1.49 per cent), shirting (0.74 per cent), beef (0.53 per cent), rice basmati broken (0.48 per cent), mutton (0.42 per cent), mustard oil (0.40 per cent), rice irri 6/9 (0.25 per cent), powdered milk (0.14 per cent), and georgette (0.03 per cent) compared to the previous week.

On an annual basis, notable price hikes were observed in gas charges for Q1 (570 per cent), chilli powder (86.05 per cent), gents sponge chappal (58.05 per cent), garlic (57.41 per cent), onions (54.65 per cent), gents sandal (53.37 per cent), gur (39.86 per cent), sugar (35.01 per cent), salt powder (33.29 per cent), energy saver (29.83 per cent), and pulse mash (27.31 per cent).

In contrast, certain items witnessed declines, with cooking oil 5-litre dropping by 21.35 per cent, followed by vegetable ghee 2.5 kg (18.48 per cent), vegetable ghee 1 kg (18.44 per cent), mustard oil (13.90 per cent), bananas (13.52 per cent), diesel (2.47 per cent), and cigarettes (0.06 per cent).

The short-term inflation, gauged through the SPI, stood at 323.50, compared to 327.21 in the preceding week and 250.66 a year ago. Comprising 51 items collected from 50 markets in 17 cities, the SPI is calculated weekly to monitor the prices of essential commodities and services at shorter intervals. Data indicates that prices of nine items increased, 17 items decreased, and 25 items remained stable compared to the previous week.

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