Inflation may ease in March


Ease is expected due to a decrease in the prices of perishable items

Faisal Sheikh

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Finance has anticipated that inflation will experience a gradual decline from this month primarily due to a decrease in the prices of perishable items.

Inflation is projected to hover around 24.5-25.5 per cent in February, with expectations of a further easing to 23.5-24.5pc in March, the ministry said in its Monthly Economic Update and Outlook for February.

“Despite the upward adjustment in transportation expenses and gas prices, the inflation outlook for the upcoming month may have a downward trend, primarily due to a decrease in the prices of perishable items on the back of better crops and ease in supplies,” it said.

The report further noted that the high base effect would contribute to keeping the inflationary pressure on the lower side.

It added that the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s food price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 118.0 points in January 2024 down by 1.0pc from the December level.

The report comes a day before the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) is set to release the inflation data for this month, and while Pakistan undertakes reforms linked to a $3 billion Standby Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It must be noted that the yearly Consumer Price Index for January clocked in at 28.3pc, the last monthly CPI data before general elections held on Feb 8.

In January, the State Bank of Pakistan held the key rate at 22pc for the fifth policy meeting in a row and increased the full-year inflation projections.

The SBP had said the decision was warranted due to “elevated” inflation — which was 29.7pc in December.