‘50-year high’: Inflation spikes to 35.37pc in March
Annual inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), soared to a record high of 35.37 percent in March, compared to 31.55pc in the previous month, driven by massive increases in food and transport prices.
The statistics bureau spokesman said the number was the highest in nearly five decades, as the government scrambled to meet International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions to unlock a desperately needed bailout.
Month-on-month inflation was 3.72 percent, according to government data released Saturday, while the average inflation rate for the past year was 27.26 percent.
“This is the highest ever inflation recorded in the data we have,” he added.
Higher prices of food, cooking oil, and electricity pushed up the index, the bureau said. The South Asian nation has been in economic turmoil for months with an acute balance of payments crisis, while talks with the IMF to secure bailout funding have stalled.
“The way inflation is rising, I believe a famine-like situation has been simmering,” said Shahida Wizarat, a Karachi-based analyst.
Inflation in urban and rural areas
In March 2023, urban Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rose to 33.0% year-on-year, compared to 28.8% in the previous month and 11.9% in March 2022. Month-on-month, it increased to 3.9%, compared to 4.5% in the previous month and 0.7% in March 2022.
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Rural CPI inflation also increased in March 2023 to 38.9% year-on-year, compared to 35.6% in the previous month and 13.9% in March 2022. On a month-on-month basis, rural CPI inflation rose to 3.5%, compared to 4.0% in the previous month and 1.0% in March 2022.
Inflation is expected to stay at “elevated” levels, the Finance Ministry said, “owing to market frictions caused by relative demand and supply gap of essential items, exchange rate depreciation and recent upward adjustment of administered prices of petrol and diesel,”