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Unbridled inflation: Public backlash compels govt to stop releasing weekly SPI?

09 Nov, 2021
Cabinet was told weekly SPI increased by 1.23 per cent on week ending October 28, 2021 whereas it rose the subsequent week by 1.38 per cent. BR
Cabinet was told weekly SPI increased by 1.23 per cent on week ending October 28, 2021 whereas it rose the subsequent week by 1.38 per cent. BR

By Mushtaq Ghumman

ISLAMABAD: Fed up with criticism across all sections of society on uncontrolled inflation massively hitting the common man, Federal Government has decided to stop release of weekly Sensitive Price Index (SPI) data and instead release monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI), well informed sources in Finance Division told Business Recorder.

This decision was taken by the Federal Cabinet in its meeting held on November 2, 2021, presided over by Prime Minister, Imran Khan.

Finance Ministry briefed the Cabinet that weekly SPI increased by 1.23 per cent on week ending October 28, 2021 whereas it rose the subsequent week by 1.38 per cent.

The cabinet was informed that prices of 25 items went up, prices of 4 items declined, while price of 22 items remained stable. Price of wheat flour per bag, sugar, vegetable Ghee, pulse Moong and pulse gram were shared with the Cabinet, with a substantial variation in their prices in different cities, especially in Karachi, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Bannu, Quetta and Khuzdar.

SPI up 0.67pc WoW

The cabinet was further informed that price of sugar was almost the same in Pakistan and in Afghanistan while in India sugar price was less than in Pakistan while in Bangladesh it was 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.

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.

This article first appeared in Business Recorder on Nov 9, 2021