ISLAMABAD: In April, inflation reached 13.4%, the highest level since January 2020, placing the new government in a difficult position at a time when it had already agreed with the International Monetary Fund to hike fuel prices in order to restart the delayed $6 billion (now $8 billion) bailout package.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculated inflation rate has reached to 13.4 percent, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. A surge in the rates of food and transportation of commodity has exacerbated the rate of price increases.
It was the greatest level of inflation since January 2020, when the rate reached 13.7 percent.
The April estimate exceeded Pakistan’s Ministry of Finance’s forecast of 12.5 percent inflation, which was released just two days before. Because of the politically sensitive nature of the new reading, it had also made decision-making for the new government difficult.
Pakistan would face a major backlash if it went forward with the IMF-promised increase in petrol and high-speed diesel prices to obtain a lifeline for the country.
The IMF has requested that Pakistan remove petrol subsidies immediately, resulting in a Rs29.6 per liter hike, as well as half the diesel subsidy in the first phase, which is currently valued at over Rs73 per liter.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, on the other hand, has decided to keep the prices unchanged for the time being, and has agreed to pay a Rs51 billion subsidy for the first two weeks of this month.
Despite the fact that the government has not raised gasoline prices, it was nonetheless 39 percent more expensive last month than it was a year earlier.
Last month, both non-perishable and perishable food products saw considerable price increases. When compared to the same month a year earlier, the food group had a price increase of almost 17 percent in April. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, prices of perishable food goods have climbed by about 30 percent.
The country’s continual double-digit inflation has undermined people’s purchasing power, according to a recent World Bank research, with poor families spending half of their incomes on food.