ISLAMABAD: The consumer price inflation in Pakistan has surged to a record high of 35.37% in March compared to the same period last year.
According to the statistics bureau, this surpasses February’s figure of 31.5%, as food, beverage, and transport prices rose up to 50% year-on-year.
Thousands of people have gathered at flour distribution centers set up across the country, with some being part of a government initiative to mitigate the impact of inflation.
Unfortunately, at least 16 people, including women and children, have died in stampedes at these centers in recent days, and thousands of bags of flour have been looted from trucks and distribution points.
The statistics bureau has called this the highest inflation rate ever recorded since the monthly records began in the 1970s.
The bureau attributed the rise in the consumer price index to higher food, cooking oil, and electricity prices.
In March, annual food inflation in urban and rural areas stood at 47.1% and 50.2%, respectively. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy, was recorded at 18.6% in urban areas and 23.1% in rural areas.
Pakistan has been in economic turmoil for several months due to an acute balance of payments crisis, and talks with the IMF for a $1.1 billion funding as part of a $6.5 billion bailout agreed in 2019 have yet to materialize.
Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have dropped to cover only four weeks of imports. The finance ministry’s monthly economic outlook report released on Friday predicts that inflation will remain high, citing market frictions, exchange rate depreciation, and fuel price adjustments as the causes.