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Housing, education, drugs boost inflation

KARACHI: Prices of almost all essential consumer goods and services rose sharply in January, especially those of housing, education and medicines.

According to State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) inflation monitor for February issued this week, the biggest negative impact caused on the common people was house rent which had the highest weighted contribution of 33.79 per cent in the top 15 items included in the main inflation.

House rent has directly received the impact of rising prices of property, which is going increasingly out of the reach of the middle class. Some people are even paying half of their monthly income on house rent.

Successive governments have tried to resolve the worsening problem of housing in the country but have failed miserably. Rent inflation stood at 6.62pc in January compared to 5.46pc in the same month of the last year.

Similarly, education inflation jumped to 12.73pc in January. There is no check on private educational institutions regarding the increase in fee and other expenses, which cause a dent in the budget of the masses. The weighted contribution of education in the Consumer Price Index was 12.75pc in January.

Several groups of schools and colleges have seemed to create monopolies in the country and are earning billions of rupees without paying tax to the government, which suggests the masses has little to benefit from the tax-free private education.

As for the health sector, poor facilities are already painful for the common people, and rising drug prices are adding insult to their injury. The State Bank reported that drug inflation sharply increased to 22.88pc in January compared to just 0.88pc a year ago.

Other important consumer items like sugar and pulses also witnessed sharp increase in January as their prices jumped by 8.5pc and 34pc, respectively.

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