Weekly inflation continued on its upwards
trajectory for the year at 19.82 per cent showing no relief for the lower and
middle-income groups, while it eased down 0.43 per cent week-on-week as a lull in
prices of a few perishables and LPG gave some respite.

Data released by the Pakistan Bureau of
Statistics (PBS) on Friday showed a decrease in prices of chicken (3.40
percent), eggs (2.99 percent), potatoes (1.65 percent), tomatoes (1.26
percent), wheat flour (0.61 percent), garlic (0.47 percent), sugar (0.17
percent), curd (0.16 percent), and LPG (1.15 percent). The decreases had a
joint impact of (-0.38 percent) in overall sensitive price indicator (SPI) for
the combined group.

Different weightings have been assigned to the commodities in the
SPI basket. Heavyweights for the lowest quintile include milk (17.5449 points),
electricity (8.3627 points), wheat flour (6.1372 points), sugar (5.1148
points), firewood (5.0183 points), long cloth (4.2221 points), and vegetable
ghee (3.2833 points).

Of these commodities, milk and firewood registered an increase on
WoW basis, the prices of wheat flour and sugar declined, whereas electricity,
long cloth and vegetable ghee prices remained the same. However, prices of all
these commodities except sugar have increased when compared with last year.

Price of unpackaged milk, a daily essential across all expenditure
groups, increased 43 paisas WoW and Rs10.09 YoY to end at Rs115.27/litre on
average as per PBS data. Consumers complain that it was impossible to find milk
at the government’s given price list. Resident of a katchi abadi in Karachi
said she bought half a litre of open milk for Rs70 this week. “Even drinking
tea is becoming an issue now, and the gas crisis just adds salt to the wounds,”
she added.

PBS data shows that the price of milk in Karachi was between Rs130-Rs140/litre
during the week ended January 13.

Similarly, price of 20kg wheat flour bag is now Rs1,160.85 up
Rs211.59; 40kg firewood is Rs805.98 up Rs65.09; a unit of electricity is Rs7.45
up Rs3.42/unit, 57-inch long cloth is Rs390.1 up Rs35.68; and a 2.5kg tin of
vegetable ghee is now priced at Rs1,014.15 up Rs336.6.

The YoY trend depicted an increase of 19.82 percent, with
electricity for Q1 up 84.86 percent, cooking oil 5 litre up 53.49 percent,
gents sponge chappal up 50.25 percent, LPG up 50.18 percent, vegetable ghee
2.5kg up 49.68 and 1kg up 49.34 percent, washing soap and mustard oil up 45.85
percent each, gents sandal up 44.49 percent, pulse masoor up 39.14 percent,
petrol up 36.13 percent, and diesel up 28.07 percent.

The government has been facing widespread criticism for the
mini-budget and increase in prices of essentials, particularly on the back of
hiking energy and power rates to get the International Monetary Fund’s approval
for $1 billion tranche of the extended fund facility.

SPI for the groups spending up to Rs17,731; Rs17,732-22,888;
Rs22,889-29,517; Rs29,518-44,175; and above Rs44,175 showed an decrease of
0.30, 0.38, 0.42, 0.46, and 0.44, respectively. On YoY basis, all expenditure
groups suffered from price hikes, with the highest impact of 20.89 percent YoY
change faced by the those having the lowest spending capacity of up to
Rs17,732. For the week under review, SPI was recorded at 167.39 points against
168.12 points registered previously.

SPI is computed on weekly basis to assess the price movements of
essential commodities at shorter interval of time so as to review the price
situation in the country. It comprises of 51 essential items and the prices are
collected from 50 markets in 17 cities of the country.

During the week, prices of 16 items increased, 9 decreased, while
prices of 26 items remained unchanged.

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