4:53 pm - Thursday May 24, 9274

Inflation cools in February, could climb again

Bangladesh’s annual inflation cooled in February for the first time since November, the Statistics Bureau said on Thursday, as political turmoil eased after an election in January, but it could go up again once electricity tariffs are raised.

Inflation eased to 7.44 percent in February from 7.50 percent a month earlier, as non-food prices fell.

inflationFood prices were 8.84 percent higher than a year earlier in February, a touch higher than January’s 8.81 percent rise.

In contrast, the non-food inflation rate eased to 5.37 percent from 5.53 percent the previous month.

Political unrest, along with frequently disrupted transport services created supply shortfalls in the months leading up to a Jan. 5 election, sending annual inflation higher for the third month in a row in January.

The unrest eased after the polls, which were boycotted by main opposition party and labelled by international observers as flawed, but the respite could be short-lived as the opposition plans to launch a fresh agitation to topple the government.

The government is set to increase heavily subsidised electricity tariffs for general consumers, which could push inflation up again and add to public fury over the spiralling cost of living.

The government aims to trim inflation to 7 percent in the current fiscal year ending in June.

The central bank has kept its key policy rates unchanged since February last year. Bangladesh’s economic growth is expected to slow to less than 6 percent in the financial year due to the political turmoil. In the previous year, the economy grew by 6 percent.