Food bill increased by Rs 12,600

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The food inflation in Sri Lanka has risen to record 58 per cent in May, increasing the cost of an ordinary family’s food bill by nearly Rs 12,600; year-on-year (YoY), latest data released by Census and Statistics Department (CSD) data showed.

Accordingly, nationwide inflation hit a record 45.30 per cent last month, beating its previous record of 33.80 per cent established in only the previous month (April 2022) aided by food inflation also hitting a record 58 per cent.

Food inflation was aided by the cost of an ordinary family’s food basket increasing by Rs 12,581.85; year on year (YoY),  led by their rice bill increasing by Rs 2,921.07; milk powder (Rs 1,293.78); vegetable bill (Rs 1,175.45); Mysore Dhal (Rs 739.89); fresh fish (Rs 669.64), bread (Rs 605.37) and chicken (Rs 457.01), respectively.  

Food inflation in part is aided by a previous Government policy of banning chemical fertiliser for seven months, from April 2021 to November 2021, which have scarred harvests, led by the Yala 2021 and Maha 2021/22 rice harvests, coupled with US dollar scarcity which has all but grinded food transport to a halt, coupled with record depreciation of the rupee making food imports costlier as Sri Lanka is an import dependent country.

Subsequently food inflation hit a record high 58 per cent, beating the previous record of 45.1 per cent established only in the previous month April.

Meanwhile, non-food inflation too soared to a record high 34.2 per cent, beating its previous record of 34.2 per cent established in April 2022. Contributions to non-food inflation last month were transport costs increasing by Rs 3,018.68 YoY; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuel bills up by Rs 1,270.06 YoY; The cost of household furnishing, routine repairs and maintenance works, led by the increase in the cost of washing soap (Rs 203.03) increasing by Rs 571.36 overall, YoY; “restaurant & hotel bills (Rs 971.76) on the basis that the majority of workers eat from out and health (Rs 617.80).

YoY to last month, the contribution of food inflation to overall inflation was 27.26 percentage points and non-food inflation 18.10 percentage points, CSD said.

BY Paneetha Ameresekere