ISLAMABAD, Jan 10 (APP):Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform and Statistics Division Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar has said that the Opposition is making baseless propaganda over price hike and inflation whereas the inflation was far higher during the first financial year of previous governments.The inflation only increased negligibly by 0.4 percent in the first 5 months of PTI’s government as compared to the increase of 11.2 and 4 percent during the same period of PPP and PML-N tenures respectively, he said. The Minister along-with Federal Minister for Information Chaudhry Fawad Hussain was addressing a press conference here Thursday, said in a statement issued by the Ministry for Planning, Development and Reform. It is pertinent to mention that on the instruction of the Prime Minister, the Federal Minister for Planning, who also holds the additional portfolio of Statistics Division, briefed the Cabinet about prices of basic kitchen items of everyday use and details of the briefing were shared with the media in order to present the real picture and dispel negative perception being engineered by the Opposition. The Minister said that during the first 5 months of PPP and PML (N) governments, the inflation increased by 11.2 percent and 4 percent respectively. On the other hand during the same period of our government, there has been a negligible increase of 0.4 percent in inflation which shows that the PTI-led government’s policies are in the right direction, he expressed. He further stated that CPI inflation for the lowest income groups i.e a family earning 17000 RS per month, actually decreased from 4.3 percent to 3.18 percent in December 2018 over the corresponding month last year. This shows that the government’s judicious policies are coming to fruition, added the Minister. He said that the Opposition is deliberately portraying negative picture to malign the government on supposed price hikes and inflation. Khusro Bakhtyar said that the Sensitive Price Index (SPI), which measures weekly fluctuations in the prices of 53 items of everyday use, also shows a decline of 0.03 percentage points for the lowest income groups. He stated the overall inflation in December 2018 remained 6.17 percent as compared to 4.6 percent in December 2017. However, he said, the incidence of inflation was more pronounced in the households falling in the highest income groups whereas the low income groups remained largely unaffected due to low food inflation. The basic food basket has witnessed negligible inflation therefore the poor have not been affected, said the Minister. Khusro Bakhtyar stated that it has been decided to keep people regularly informed of prices. He said that the Government is devising a holistic strategy to guard the marginalized sections of society against inflationary pressures. The burden of inflation and price hike will not be shifted to people falling in low income groups, underlined the Minister. He added that fiscal interventions will be made to protect the vulnerable sections of society through various programmes including Benazir Income Support Programme if need be as well as through other welfare initiatives. He added that a strong price control and checking mechanism will be devised to discourage profiteering and hoarding.