Still within government’s forecast but higher than last year’s 2.2%
Philippine headline inflation stayed at 4.5 percent in April due to the slower pick up in prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported.
In a briefing on Wednesday, National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said last month’s figure matched the recorded inflation in March but still significantly higher than the 2.2 percent a year ago.
It also settled within the 4.2- to 5-percent forecast range of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the 4.5- to 4.8-percent projection of analysts polled by The Manila Times.
“The varying movements in the prices of commodity groups in April 2021 resulted in the same inflation rate as March 2021,” said Mapa.
The year-to-date consumer price growth averaged 4.5 percent, surpassing the BSP’s 2- to 4-percent range for 2021.
Inflation of the heavily-weighted food and nonalcoholic beverages slowed down at 4.8 percent while alcoholic beverages and tobacco was at 12 percent. In particular, meat inflation was at 22.1 percent, fish at 6 percent, and other cereals, flour at 1.8 percent.
Mapa said annual increases were higher in the indices of housing, water, electricity, and gas and other fuels, 1.5 percent; furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house, 2.1 percent; health, 3.1 percent; transport, 17.9 percent; communication, 0.3 percent; and restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services, 3.4 percent.
Excluding selected food and energy items, core inflation settled at 3.3 percent, lower than the 3.5 percent in March and the 3.4 percent recorded in April last year. It averaged 3.4 percent in the first four months of 2021.
Consumer price growth for the bottom 30-percent income households at the national level slowed down to 4.9 percent from 5.5 percent in March. Last year, it was recorded at 2.9 percent.
“The deceleration of inflation for the bottom 30-percent income households this April 2021 is because of the slower movement of prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages. This is because of the decline in prices of vegetables such as potatoes, which recorded a 1.0-percent inflation. The lower prices of rice also contributed to the decline,” said Mapa.
Mapa said annual increases, however, were higher in the indices of clothing and footwear at 2.7 percent; housing, water, electricity, and gas and other fuels, 2.5 percent; and transport, 23.1 percent.
”Currently, the urgent need for community pantries, and the fast spread of such practices in various, different LGUs (local government units) means that first and foremost, there is a large sector of marginalized consumers still greatly affected by the pandemic, and many of our kababayans have taken it upon themselves to aid those in need, or those lacking the finances or purchase power, in whatever small way they can,” Mapa said.
Higher pork imports needed
For its part, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the temporary reduction of pork tariffs and higher pork imports are needed to arrest the rising pork inflation.
NEDA Secretary Karl Chua made the statement after meat inflation reached 22.1 percent due to the high price of pork.
“Meat has been persistently the top contributor to inflation this year, hence we urgently need to temporarily augment our pork supply through importation. Retaining the status quo will cause 100 million Filipinos to suffer longer from high food prices,” Chua said.
To help bring down prices of meat, the Department of Agriculture earlier proposed to increase in the minimum access volume (MAV) for pork from 54,210 to 404,210 metric tons, coupled with lower tariffs, to help fill the supply deficit, reduce food prices, and ensure local food supply is adequate and affordable.
“Price stability and food security during the ongoing pandemic should be given the highest priority. The temporary measure will also buy time and enable our local hog industry to repopulate their stock, without sacrificing the purchasing power of households, especially those who lost their jobs and income amid the pandemic,” Chua said.
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