Pakistan inflation at 30-year high in July

KARACHI - Pakistan's inflation accelerated to a 30-year high in July, lending support to the central bank's decision to raise interest rates last month.

By (Bloomberg)

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Published: Wed 13 Aug 2008, 11:33 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:53 AM

Consumer prices in South Asia's second-largest economy jumped 24.33 per cent from a year earlier after soaring 21.53 per cent in June, the Federal Bureau of Statistics said in Islamabad today. Economists were expecting a 23.5 per cent gain.

"Rising fuel prices in the domestic market have been stoking inflation," said Farhan Rizvi, an economist at JS Global Capital Ltd. in Karachi. "The trend is expected to continue going forward, and the inflation rate could be 24 per cent in August."

Central banks across Asia are increasing interest rates as higher food and energy prices fuel inflation, even as a U.S. slowdown crimps the region's exports. Higher borrowing costs in Pakistan may further weaken growth in an economy which expanded 5.8 per cent last year, the slowest pace since 2003.

The State Bank of Pakistan raised its benchmark rate by one percentage point to 13 per cent on July 29, the third increase this year. Governor Shamshad Akhtar said at the time that inflationary pressures where more alarming than ever before. Pakistan raised gasoline and diesel prices by about 15 per cent on July 21, the sixth increase in five months.

Inflation in the $146 billion economy is also being fanned by government spending which is being financed with totally unsustainable borrowings from the central bank, Akhtar said July 29.

The central bank has advised the government to retire 21 billion rupees ($290 million) of debt every quarter this fiscal year, she said. Pakistan's budget deficit reached a 10-year high of about 7 per cent of gross domestic product in the 12 months to June 30, according to Finance Minister Naveed Qamar.

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