ISLAMABAD: Inflation rose by 12.91 per cent in March because of higher food and fuel prices and house rent.
The Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) reported on Saturday that average inflation during the first nine months (July-March) of the current fiscal year increased by 11.3 per cent. Prices of food and beverages increased by 14.6 per cent in March compared to the same period of last year.
The break-up of food and beverage group showed that the major increase in March was recorded in prices of farm chicken. Its rates increased by almost 15 per cent. Potato prices surged by 11.8 per cent, onion 7.63 per cent, fresh fruit 7.5 per cent and vegetable 6.6 per cent.
House rent, which carries about one-fourth weight in the commodities group, soared 12 per cent. According to FBS statistics, prices of fuel and lighting increased by 17.2 per cent and transport and communication by almost 14 per cent in March.
After the abolishment of Magistrate System in early 2000, it seems that there is no regulatory mechanism working in the market to keep a check on prices of daily-use commodities.
The March inflation figures are about half a percentage point higher than what was anticipated by economists in a survey conducted by a news agency.
The State Bank of Pakistan said last month that inflation would be between 11-12 per cent against government estimates of 9 per cent till June. A second round of inflation is looming, as the government is set to increase power tariff by 6 per cent under an agreement with international donor agencies.
On the other hand, crude oil is traded at a 16-month high in the international market, which will cause a further rise in oil prices. This will lead to a surge in electricity prices under the monthly fuel cost adjustment agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
Reuters adds: Pakistan’s wholesale price index (WPI) rose by 21.80 per cent in March from a year earlier, and was up 2.53 per cent from February, the Federal Bureau of Statistics said on Saturday.