Pakistan is grappling with a persistent economic challenge as inflation continues to surge. The cost of living is on the rise, leaving many people worried about their daily expenses.
In Pakistan, inflation is monitored weekly through the SPI (Sensitive Price Index), which is like a financial thermometer. The week ending October 26, 2023, saw a 29.65% increase in prices compared to the same week the previous year. This means that, on average, things were almost 30% more expensive than they were a year ago.
Two main villains are driving this inflation: energy and food prices. Gas prices skyrocketed by a whopping 108.38% in the first quarter of the financial year 2023-24. Meanwhile, the cost of cigarettes rose by 94.46%. These increases have a direct impact on our wallets, as many households and businesses rely on gas for cooking and heating.
Food prices are also hitting us hard. Some food items recorded significant price jumps, including 84.11% for chilli powder, 78.51% for broken Basmati rice, 77.49% for wheat flour, and 63.22% for sugar. Despite having surplus production, essential commodities like wheat, rice, and sugar continue to experience price spikes.
Price stability in local markets remains a distant dream, leaving many to wonder whether government price control measures and export policies are effective. These measures are intended to keep prices in check, but their success is questionable in the face of soaring costs.
Experts predict that the inflation struggle will persist. Gas prices are expected to increase by a staggering 193% from November 1, 2023. This increase will affect industries that rely heavily on gas, such as steel, cement, and fertilizers, as their production costs go up.
Despite these challenges, there is a silver lining. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), there was a 0.33% decrease in weekly inflation compared to the preceding week. This decrease can be attributed to lower prices of various items like chicken, onion, Irri-6/9 rice, banana, jaggery, masoor pulse, sugar, and mustard oil, with reductions ranging from 2% to 10.19% on a week-on-week basis. While this is a small decrease, it’s a step in the right direction.
Inflation is a pressing concern in Pakistan, impacting the everyday lives of its people. The significant rise in energy and food prices is taking a toll on household budgets and the country’s overall economic stability. As we move forward, it’s crucial for the government to address these issues effectively to ensure a better standard of living for its citizens.