ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s inflation rate has sharply increased to 4.9 percent in March due to hike in prices of food commodities as well as fuel.

The inflation measured through consumer price index (CPI) has recorded at 4.9 percent in March as against same month of the previous year, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) said on Monday. Inflation is continuously enhancing from last few months due to visible impact of the recent increase in petroleum prices as well as rising food prices.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in its recent report has noted that average CPI inflation has risen from 2.1 percent in first half (July-December) FY16 to 3.9 percent as in the same period of the FY17 which reflects higher domestic demand and an increase in global commodity prices. However, it highlights that on year-on-year basis, the CPI inflation has fluctuated in a narrow range during this period. However, the Monetary Policy Committee of SBP has decided to keep the policy rate unchanged at 5.75 percent.

The government has target to keep inflation at below six percent during ongoing financial year 2016-17. The PBS data showed that CPI based inflation has remained at 4.01 percent during first nine months (July-March) of the current fiscal year.

Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI), which gauges rates of kitchen items on weekly basis, has increased by 1.42 percent during the first nine months of the year 2016-17 as against the same month of last year. Similarly, the wholesale price index (WPI) based inflation increased by 3.79 percent in the period under review.

According to the PBS data, the CPI based inflation has increased by 0.8 percent during March compared to the previous month (February). CPI Core inflation measured by non-food non-energy CPI (Core NFNE) increased by 5.3 percent on YoY basis in March 2017 as compared to increase of 5.3 percent in the previous month.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages prices have increased by 4.64 percent. Similarly, health and education charges went up by 13.75 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively. Similarly, prices of utilities (housing, water, electricity, gas and fuel) increased by 4.8 percent in last the month.

Meanwhile, the prices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco went up by 12.44 percent, clothing and footwear at 3.56 percent and furnishing and household equipment maintenance charges 2.32 percent. Recreational charges and those related to culture went up by 1.25 percent in the period under review, while amounts charged by restaurants and hotels by 3.52 percent in March 2017 as compared to the same month last year.

In food commodities, price of tomatoes increased by 68.43 percent, chicken 21.6 percent, onion 18.16 percent, potatoes 15.48 percent and fresh fruits price surged by 12.52 percent.

Likewise, in non-food items, motor fuel price surged by 1.4 percent during March as compared to February.

According to the PBS figures, price of eggs decreased by 21.34 percent, pulse gram 8.06 percent, besan 4.94 percent, sugar 4.39 percent, pulse masoor 4.16 percent and prices of different pulses also recorded decline during the period under review.