KARACHI: The headline inflation based on Consumer Price Index (CPI) may clock near 13 per cent for the month of January 2022.
Analysts at Arif Habib Limited forecast that January 2022 inflation to settle at 12.97 per cent Year on Year (YoY) compared to 5.65 per cent in January 2021 and 12.28 per cent in December 2021, respectively.
This will take the average inflation to 10.24 per cent during first seven months (July – January) 2021/2022 compared to 8.21 per cent in corresponding months of the last fiscal year.
The YoY uptick in CPI will likely be led by Food (12.5 per cent YoY), Clothing & Footwear (13.3 per cent YoY), Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco (2.2 per cent YoY), Housing (15.0 per cent YoY), House Hold Equipment (13.5 per cent YoY) and Miscellaneous (9.4 per cent YoY).
The analysts predicted that on a Month on Month (MoM) basis, CPI reading to increase 0.4 per cent. While Housing and Transport index are likely to keep MoM inflation up, food index is expected to decline 0.7 per cent MoM.
This is the second consecutive MoM decline in food index in the current fiscal year.
As per Sensitive Price Index (SPI) data published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), average prices of Potatoes, Tomatoes and Condiments and Spices are expected to register a decline of 13 per cent, 35 per cent and 21 per cent MoM, respectively which will keep the food index contained.
On the other hand, prices of essential food items like Fresh Fruits and Onions are expected to increase 8 per cent MoM and 5 per cent MoM, respectively. However, quarterly adjustment in House rent and increase in petroleum products will keep the Housing index and Transport Index up 0.5 per cent MoM and 1.9 per cent MoM, respectively.
Inflation has witnessed slowdown recently with supply-side pressures from food showing a decline and core-inflation still under control. However, going forward we expect inflation to remain in check on account of adjustments in electricity price (base tariff hike-which is expected in phased manner), any increase in prices of petroleum products owing to higher international oil prices and surge in prices of perishable and nonperishable food items in the month of Ramadan.
The analysts expect average inflation for FY22 to remain in double digit, above 10 per cent YoY. On monetary policy front, the SBP kept policy rate unchanged at 9.75 per cent in its recent January 2022 Monetary Policy Statement (MPS).
The Committee no longer targets mildly positive interest rates as it believes the current levels appear appropriate for the economy.