Figure fudging of price data ‘not possible’, govt clarifies

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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives clarified on Saturday that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) followed a transparent process to compile data regarding inflation rate and that figure fudging of price data was not possible.

Rejecting a media report titled ‘Understatement of the Rate of Inflation’, the ministry clarified, “The estimates of different researchers regarding inflation figure was around 13pc, whereas the actual inflation compiled by PBS for the month of January 2019 is (14.6pc) more than what was estimated. This shows PBS is non-biased towards compilation and publication of price statistics.”

It continued, “PBS follows standing operating procedures regarding time schedule for data collection and this inflation is higher because the prices were collected during the peak of the price surge in the mid of the month.

“Furthermore, PBS clarifies that as far as the average price of wheat flour (Rs.47/kg) is concerned, it is weighted average price calculated from varying prices from Rs800 to Rs1200 in different cities as per availability of flour in the market.”

As per the statement, the prices in Punjab were on average Rs40 per kg while in Karachi it was highest at Rs60 per kg. City-wise prices of 51 essential items were given as annexure of the CPI on the website of PBS.

The ministry observed that in Punjab, where both government-controlled and private flour was available, the wheat flour average price ranged from Rs800 to Rs942 per 20 kg. In KP, Sindh and Balochistan, the average wheat flour price ranged from Rs1000 to Rs1200 per 20 kg.

Regarding ‘five per cent increase in rent’, as reported in the news, the ministry stated, “The rent prices are collected on a quarterly basis and computed on the basis of weighted average approach based on the data collected from small and large housing units, which revealed that the year-on-year rent increase is 5.63 per cent for the current quarter.

“This increase is aligned with the historical trend of rent increase, however, it is not essential that rent increases every month.”

The ministry further clarified that PBS collects the data of real-time prices on android technology equipped with GPS and monitored at different levels.

“Price data collection, validation and publication are well synchronized with best global standard Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP). PBS compiles data without any political intervention or motivation and transparency is ensured regarding city-wise price data. Therefore, the fudging of the data is not possible.”

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