ISLAMABAD, April 1, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Pakistan's year-on-year inflation hit
35.37 percent in March -- the highest in nearly five decades -- as the
government scrambled to meet International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions to
unlock a desperately needed bailout.
Month-on-month inflation was 3.72 percent, according to government data
released Saturday, while the average inflation rate for the past year was
Years of financial mismanagement and political instability have pushed
Pakistan's economy to the brink of collapse, exacerbated by a global energy
crisis and devastating floods that submerged a third of the country in 2022.
The country needs billions of dollars of financing to service existing debt,
while foreign exchange reserves have dwindled and the rupee is in freefall.
Poor Pakistanis are feeling the brunt of the economic turmoil, and at least
20 people have been killed since the start of the Muslim fasting month of
Ramadan in crowd crushes at food distribution centres.
"The way inflation is rising, I believe a famine-like situation has been
simmering," said Shahida Wizarat, a Karachi-based analyst.
At least 12 people were killed Friday in a crowd crush in Pakistan's southern
city of Karachi at a factory distributing Ramadan alms.
The South Asian nation -- home to more than 220 million -- is deep in debt
and must enact tough tax reforms and push up utility prices if it hopes to
unlock another tranche of a $6.5 billion IMF bailout and avoid defaulting.
Inflation is expected to stay at "elevated" levels, the finance ministry
said, "owing to market frictions caused by relative demand and supply gap of
essential items, exchange rate depreciation and recent upward adjustment of
administered prices of petrol and diesel."