Govt claims inflation rose by only 0.4pc in five months

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ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday claimed that inflation had increased negligibly during its first five months as compared with the same period of previous governments.

After a meeting of the federal cabinet, Statistics Division secretary Dr Shaista Sohail presented figures on inflation at a press conference. Fed­eral Minister for Planning and Stat­istics Khusro Bakhtyar and Infor­mation Minister Fawad Chaudhry were present during the presentation.

According to the secretary, inflation posted a growth of 0.4 per cent during July-Dec 2018, while it grew by 11.2pc during the Pakistan Peoples Party government and by 4pc during the tenure of the Pakistan Muslim League-N.

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The cabinet was briefed about prices of basic kitchen items and details of the briefing were shared with the media in order to present the real picture and dispel negative perception being created by the opposition.

The inflation remained low for the low-income groups, who earn Rs17,000 per month, while it was much higher for high-income groups during the first half of the current financial year.

The reason for lower inflation for the low-income groups is minimal increase in gas and electricity rates.

Also Read: Inflation slows down for 2nd straight month, stands at 6.2%

The gas price hike for lowest user slab was 15.4pc as compared to 143pc for the highest slab, while the same trend was witnessed in electricity prices.

Prices of 10 essential kitchen items, which declined in the past 10 weeks, include potatoes, tomatoes, onions and chicken. But prices of wheat flour, fresh milk, vegetable ghee, gram pulse and LPG cylinders have increased during this period.

The Statistics Division secretary said that a comprehensive campaign would be launched soon to make people aware about the price trends. A special bulletin based on prices may be telecast on PTV and local media.

She said a campaign in ‘morning TV talk shows’ for housewives might be initiated to increase awareness about prices of essential commodities

Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtyar said at the briefing that the opposition was making baseless propaganda over price hike.

He said that Consumer Price Index inflation for a family earning Rs17,000 a month had actually decreased from 4.3pc to 3.18pc in December last year over the corresponding month the year before.

He said the Sensitive Price Index (SPI), which measures weekly fluctuations in prices of 53 items of daily use, also showed a decline of 0.03 percentage points for the lowest income groups.

He said the overall inflation in December 2018 remained 6.17pc as compared to 4.6pc in December 2017. However, he pointed out, the incidence of inflation was more pronounced in the households falling in the highest income groups whereas the low income groups remained largely unaffected due to low food inflation. The basic food basket has witnessed negligible inflation, he added.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2019

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