The rate of increase in consumer prices remained flat but above the government’s target for four consecutive months in April as food items, particularly pricey pork products, continued to drive inflation.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Wednesday, May 5, that headline inflation clocked in at 4.5 percent last month, unchanged from its level seen in March. However, the latest price index was higher compared with 2.5 percent in April 2020.
The latest inflation reading brought the country’s first four-month average to 4.5 percent, above the government’s target band of 2.0 percent to 4.0 percent. The April rate also marked the fourth month that inflation exceeded target.
“The varying movements in the prices of commodity groups in April resulted in the same inflation rate as March’s,” National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa said in a virtual briefing.
The annual increase of 4.8 percent in the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages, which accounts for 40.8 percent, primarily pushed up the overall inflation in April. In particular, pork prices increased 22.1 percent while fish prices were up 6.0 percent.
Another large contributor to overall inflation last month, with 32.1 percent share, was transport with 17.9 percent. In particular, tricycle fare up 48.4 percent; petroleum and fuels rose 32 percent; and jeepney fare jumped 6.3 percent.
Moreover, restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services also saw higher inflation print in April with 3.4 percent that accounted for 9.5 percent of the overall average.
Meanwhile, annual mark-ups decelerated in the indices of food and non-alcoholic beverages at 4.8 percent and alcoholic beverages and tobacco at 12.0 percent.
In a research note, Nicholas Antonio Mapa, ING Bank Manila senior economist said upside pressure on inflation remained confined to specific supply-side issues, like the African swine fever (ASF) and pandemic-related health protocols. The ASF crisis pushed pork and global crude oil prices, while social-distancing protocols fueled inflation in tricycle fares, restaurants and other services, Mapa said.
He, however, noted that food and beverage inflation in April was down from 5.8 percent the previous month.
“Should price pressures continue to dissipate, we can expect inflation to decelerate as early as next month with 4.5 percent possibly the peak for the year,” Mapa said.