WHOLESALE PRICE growth in general goods picked up to its fastest pace in 14 months in March, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Friday showed.
The country’s general wholesale price index (GWPI) increased by 2.8% from a year earlier in March. This was faster than the revised growth rate of 2.5% in February and 2.3% in March 2020.
This was the fastest price growth since the 2.9% expansion seen in January 2020.
Driving the index’s rise were double-digit growth in crude materials, inedible except fuels (44.4% from 36.4% in February), and mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (11.9% from 2.1%). Quicker price increases were also observed in beverages and tobacco (7.4% from 7.3%); chemicals including animal and vegetable oils and fats (5.2% from 4.3%); manufactured goods classified chiefly by materials (0.8% from 0.6%); and miscellaneous manufactured articles (0.7% from 0.6%).
On the other hand, food price growth slowed to 2.4% from the previous month’s 3.1%.
Price growth in machinery and transport remained unchanged for the third straight month in March at 0.5%.
Meanwhile, the GWPI performance varied among major island groups. In March, wholesale prices in Luzon grew at a slightly faster pace at 2.9% from 2.8% in February and 2.4% in March 2020.
The GWPI in the Visayas continued to post an average decline at 0.6%, slower from the 1.2% decline recorded in the preceding month. In March 2020, its GWPI registered 2.4% growth.
Meanwhile, Mindanao’s GWPI growth remains unchanged at 4.5% in March from February. This was faster compared with the 1.5% pace seen last year.
UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion said the momentum of the economy’s reopening in the early part of the year drove the faster GWPI print in March.
“Again, [the pickup in] crude materials and mineral fuels are related to re-opening efforts of the economy particularly in general production. It can also be related to inputs for import activities…,” Mr. Asuncion said.
The economist added that barring the reimposition of stricter restrictions in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in late March and April, the GWPI is “expected to be faster” in the coming months as the restrictions will likely be further eased.
“However, it is not yet expected to go back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021,” Mr. Asuncion said.
Aside from measuring price level changes at the wholesale level, the GWPI is also used to monitor the economic situation of the wholesale trade sector. Moreover, it is among the indices used as a deflator in the PSA’s national accounts, as well as a guide in economic analysis, policy formulation, and forecasting.