Inflation quickens again in March on food prices

Rising food prices helped push Bangladesh’s annual inflation to 7.48 percent in March, ending a brief slowdown, the statistics bureau said on Sunday.

inflationSupplies of basic foodstuffs were affected by frequent transport blockades and other unrest in the run-up to elections in January. Food prices in March were 8.96 percent higher than a year earlier, up from February’s 8.84 percent increase, the national bureau said. That helped push annual inflation up from February’s 7.44 percent – a figure that had amounted to the first cooldown in annual inflation since November.

Unrest eased after the polls, which were boycotted by the main opposition party and shunned by international observers. But the respite could be short-lived as the opposition has said it will launch a fresh movement to try and topple the government. The government raised heavily subsidised electricity tariffs in March and plans to increase gas prices, which could push inflation still higher and add to public anger over the spiralling cost of living.

The government has said it wants 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. In contrast to the rising food prices, annual non-food inflation eased to 5.26 percent in March from 5.37 percent in February.