No weekly food inflation data from today

New Delhi: The government has discontinued practice of releasing food inflation data every Thursday from today.

"Consequent upon the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) held on January 24, 2012, weekly release of Wholesale Price Index (WPI) for the commodities/ items under the Groups `Primary Articles` and `Fuel & Power is discontinued with immediate effect," the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which releases the inflation data, said.

The government, however, will continue releasing the monthly headline or overall inflation data, which also contains the break-up for all segments including food, non-food, fuel and manufactured items. The monthly WPI for January would be released on February 14.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry used to release the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) data on primary articles and fuel and power every week, mostly on Thursdays. The primary articles include food items, which has a weight of about 14 per cent in the overall inflation.

Food inflation stood at (-) 1.03 for the week ended January 14, according to the data released last week. Headline for December was 7.47 per cent. "It is a sensible decision to do away with weekly data release. Not only are the weekly-on-week data more volatile but they are also not a good indicator of the real price situation," Crisil Chief Economist D K Joshi said. He also said that globally the practice is to release inflation data on a monthly basis. .

The government had last month decided to do away with the practice of releasing the weekly primary and food inflation data as the figures were not portraying the "holistic" picture of the price situation.

Senior officials had said that the reason for doing away with the weekly figures was because there used to be a lot of variation in the weekly primary and food inflation numbers and the monthly data. Besides, according to government sources, the weekly data were not giving any "clear and holistic" picture of the inflation situation.

In September 2010, the government had changed the base year for calculating WPI to 2004-05 from 1993-94. The new WPI series has 241 more items than in the old index. With the additional items, the WPI now measures a total of 676 items against 435 earlier. Earlier, the government used to release the overall inflation data on weekly basis.

But in October 2009, it changed the calender and decided to release the comprehensive data on inflation on a monthly basis, but continued to release price movement of primary articles, including food, and fuel every week.

From this month the government will also come out with a retail inflation data based on the all-India Consumer Price Index. The first nationwide CPI numbers, for the month of January, will come out on February 21.