Consumer inflation hits 2-yr low
Drop Across White-Collar Urbanites, Farmers & Industrial Workers INDIA’S consumer price inflation is at a two-year low. More importantly, the drop in consumer inflation indices is across categories—white-collar urbanites, farmers as well as industrial workers. This trend is the opposite to that displayed by the wholesale price index (WPI), which has been inching up and is currently at 4.35%. According to the latest official inflation statistics released by CSO, the consumer price index (CPI) for urban non-manual employees, or CPI(UNME), which broadly represents the white-collared employees residing in urban India, has recorded an inflation of 4.8% in January ’08 versus the same month previous year. This is the lowest level since October 2005. For a large part of 2007, CPI(UNME) reported 6-7% inflation, a level last witnessed a decade ago. But what comes as a bigger surprise is the CPI for agricultural labourers, which is collated by the Labour Bureau. For January ’08, the consumer inflation for agricultural labourers was reported at 5.6%, the lowest since April 2006. This had galloped to a high of 9%-plus in early 2007. The consumer price inflation for agricultural and rural labourers at that time was higher than any other consuming class in the economy. Had this not eased, it could have posed a serious problem with 2009 being a general election year.