RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s inflation rate softened to 2.7 percent in March, against 3 percent recorded in February, primarily driven by a slight decrease in the prices of food and beverages, according to the latest report released by the General Authority for Statistics.
The inflation rate in the Kingdom stood at 3.4 percent and 3.3 percent in January 2023 and December 2022 respectively.
The GASTAT report noted that the month-on-month decline in Saudi Arabia’s consumer price index was affected by a 0.4 percent decrease in food prices.
It added that household equipment and maintenance prices also fell by 0.5 percent in March compared to the previous month.
However, on a year-on-year basis, the Kingdom’s inflation rate continues to rise in line with the global trend, as it stood at 2.0 percent in March 2022.
The report pointed out that the rise in Saudi Arabia’s consumer price index in March compared to the same month of last year was driven by the prices of housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels which went up by 7.4 percent.
Prices of food and beverages went up by 2.3 percent year-on-year, while transport prices edged up by 1.8 percent.
While housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuel prices increased due to the rise in actual rentals for housing by 8.7 percent, which in turn was affected by the increase in apartment rental prices by 22 percent.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s wholesale price index declined by 2.7 percent month-on-month in March, but it went up by 1.1 percent on an annual basis.
According to the report, the annual increase in the WPI index was primarily driven by higher prices of food products, beverages, tobacco, and textiles which went up by 5.1 percent in March.
Prices of agriculture and fishery products increased by 3.0 percent year-on-year, while prices of other transportable goods went up by 1.3 percent.
Despite the looming scare of inflation and a potential global economic crisis, the International Monetary Fund raised its expectations for Saudi Arabia’s economic growth this year by 0.5 percent to 3.1 percent, compared to 2.6 percent in January.
In October 2022, the IMF stated that Saudi Arabia would remain the fastest-expanding economy among the Group of 20 countries, despite the turmoil caused by rising inflation and soaring interest rates.