Consumer prices slightly increase

Published December 5, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Chino Leyco

The rate of increase in consumer prices picked up in November, halting its five consecutive months of decline, but the level remained well within the government’s target.

Customers buy vegetables at a market in Manila (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Customers buy vegetables at a market in Manila

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported yesterday that headline inflation settled at 1.3 percent in November, up from 0.8 percent in the previous month, but still weaker compared with 6.0 percent a year ago.

The November figure brought the 11-month inflation average to 2.5 percent, well within the Duterte administration’s goal of 2.0 percent to 4.0 percent.

The uptrend in the inflation was due to alcoholic beverages and tobacco. In particular, prices of cigarettes rose 23.4 percent, while tuba increased by 6.9 percent, beer jumped by 3.5 percent, and brandy up by 3.0 percent.

Higher inflation last month was also due to higher rate in housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels.

Specifically, higher annual mark-ups were observed in actual rentals for housing at 3.1 percent, fuel wood at 6.1 percent, and cement at 0.5 percent.

In addition, higher increment was also registered in health, which contributed to the uptrend in the inflation during the month. Rates in private hospital services rose 3.5 percent, while general medical services went up 6.1 percent, and specialized medical services inched up by 0.5 percent.

Among the 11 major commodity groups, the top contributors to November inflation were still restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services, with a rate of 2.7 percent and a share of 29.6 percent to the overall level.

The index of the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages, meanwhile, registered an annual growth of zero percent from 0.9 percent drop in October.

Rice’s continued deflation trend was also seen last month, but at a much slower pace from 9.7 percent in October to 8.3 percent.

While the rate remained manageable, Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro said the government should still ensure there is sufficient food supply to counter the possible upside risks to inflation.

Among the threats cited by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) are the impact of typhoon “Tisoy” and the African Swine Fever (ASF).

“We expect the 2019 full-year inflation to settle within the government’s target. However, there remains upside risks to inflation such as the impact of Typhoon ‘Tisoy’ and ASF,” Navarro said.

“It is also crucial to ensure sufficient supply of key food items in managing the country’s overall inflation, especially with the anticipated surge in demand this holiday season,” she added.

Navarro also said the recovery and rehabilitation efforts in the disaster-stricken areas should be prioritized.

Based on the initial estimates of the Department of Agriculture, the farm sector has incurred P1.93 billion in crop losses brought about by typhoon “Tisoy” in the Bicol and IV-B regions.

“The government should also provide financial aid to farmers affected by the recent typhoon by providing emergency loans such as the DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council’s Survival and Recovery Assistance Program as well as cash-for-work programs,” Navarro said.

Moreover, she stressed that the government should continue to strictly implement its bio-security measures and quarantine procedures to control the spread of ASF in the country.

“This should be coupled with the provision of indemnity fund and loan assistance to affected farmers. Fast-tracking of the formulation of the Philippines’ national zoning plan to effectively implement the government’s ASF eradication efforts is also needed,” Navarro said.