Pakistan Inflation Rises by Record as IMF Reforms Spur Gains

Pakistan Inflation Rises by Record as IMF Reforms Spur Gains

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(Bloomberg) — Pakistan’s inflation quickened by a record on higher taxes and energy prices, suggesting that further interest rate increases may be needed.

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Consumer prices rose 35.37% from a year earlier, according to data released by the statistics department Saturday. That compares with a median estimate for a 34.8% gain in a Bloomberg survey and a 31.55% increase in February.

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“This was broadly expected with the persisting higher food prices, and a tax on tobacco has been implemented,” said Amreen Soorani, head of research at JS Global Capital in Karachi. “Consumer prices will go up for a couple of months before it starts decelerating due to high base impact.”

The latest print may bolster the case for State Bank of Pakistan to raise the target rate at a review scheduled April 4, with all but one of 14 economists surveyed so far expecting a hike. 

The central bank last month delivered a blowout 300-basis-point increase to 20% to rein in skyrocketing prices that were stoked by a weaker currency, as well as tax and energy price hikes aimed at clinching an International Monetary Fund bailout that’s still in limbo.

The IMF has asked the South Asian nation to seek commitments from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates before it revives the bailout.

Transport prices climbed up 54.94% while food inflation quickened 47.15% in March from a year earlier, data showed. Clothing and footwear prices accelerated 21.93% and housing, water and electricity costs rose 17.49%.

—With assistance from Clarissa Batino and P R Sanjai.

(Adds analyst’s comments in third paragraph)

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