THERE are encouraging indications that the country was doing well without inflows from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but it is a matter of concern that the monthly inflation has soared to an all-time high. According to the data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) on Tuesday, inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), has been recorded at 36.42pc in April, putting the country ahead of Sri Lanka with the highest inflation rate in Asia. This is the highest inflation ever, according to data available since 1965.
The phenomenal rise in inflation rate for April is understandable as prices of eatables including fruit and vegetables witnessed a quantum jump due to manipulative tactics adopted by unscrupulous elements in the business community, who fleece the general public during the holy month of Ramadan. The prices have since receded and this might be reflected in the data for May whenever it becomes available. However, there are other major factors as well that are pushing the inflation upward constantly and unfortunately the government, so far, has not been able to address them satisfactorily. Exchange rate, which is considered to be mother factor behind inflation, is still volatile despite the fact it is hovering around Rs. 290 a dollar; decrease in the oil prices in the international market is not being passed on to the people and instead absorbed against a multitude of taxes; what prices have crossed all limits but manipulation is still on and the administrative machinery is watching the situation silently when people are being looted by hoarders, smugglers and profiteers. If for some reasons, the government is unable to address these factors then it should, at least, provide relief to the masses in the coming budget.