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Inflation is out of control

ISLAMABAD: Fed up with widespread criticism of uncontrolled inflation that is wreaking havoc on the average citizen, the Federal Government has decided to stop publishing weekly Sensitive Price Index (SPI) data and instead publish monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI), according to well-placed sources in the Finance Division.

The Federal Cabinet made this decision on November 2, 2021, at a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The Finance Ministry informed the Cabinet that the weekly SPI increased by 1.23 percent in the week ending October 28, 2021, before rising by 1.38 percent the following week.

Also read: The Prime Minister outlined a programme to keep food inflation in check

The cabinet was informed that the prices of 25 products had increased, the prices of four items had decreased, and the prices of 22 things had remained unchanged. The Cabinet was informed about the prices of wheat flour per bag, sugar, vegetable Ghee, pulse Moong, and pulse gramme, all of which varied significantly between cities, particularly in Karachi, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Bannu, Quetta, and Khuzdar.

The cabinet was also informed that sugar prices were nearly identical in Pakistan and Afghanistan, that sugar prices in India were lower than in Pakistan, and that sugar prices in Bangladesh were higher than in Pakistan.

During the discussion, it was observed that prices of wheat flour, sugar and pulses in Sindh were higher than in the rest of the country, for which the provincial government should take necessary steps to control price hike.

On a query by members on the weekly SPI in India and Bangladesh, it was clarified that the two countries release only CPI on monthly basis. The members argued that Pakistan should also only release CPI on monthly basis, which was the practice prevalent internationally. It was also desired that Sri Lanka should be also be included in the price comparison with regional countries.

Also read: Inflation increased by 9.2 percent in October on energy, food spike

The cabinet took note of the presentation by the Finance Division on prices of essential kitchen items and observed that despite inflationary pressure prices in Pakistan were still lower in comparison to other regional counties.

The Cabinet directed the Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Division to only release CPI on monthly basis, instead of weekly SPI, in line with the practice prevalent internationally.

The Cabinet also directed Finance Division to include Sri Lanka in the price comparison with regional countries.

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