Rising gas, food prices seen to push PH inflation faster

Chrisee Dela Paz
Rising gas, food prices seen to push PH inflation faster
The movement of prices of basic goods and services is seen to be faster in April

MANILA, Philippines – Consumers will continue feeling the pinch at grocery stores and gasoline stations in April, as the inflation rate during the month is expected to be higher than the 5-year-high rate a month ago.

On the sidelines of the 51st Asian Development Bank (ADB) meeting in Pasig City, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said he expects the inflation rate in April to be “probably a bit higher” than the 4.3% recorded in March.

The inflation rate has been registering a faster pace every month since the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law in January.

“Oil prices are really going up. They have been going up consistently in the past several weeks. Also the depreciation of the peso and the TRAIN [law] is also a culprit,” Pernia told reporters on Thursday, May 3.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) earlier rebased the inflation index to 2012 prices, from the previous series using 2006 prices, as part of the protocol of statistical rebasing regularly done every 6 years. (READ: EXPLAINER: How the tax reform law affects Filipino consumers)

In March, the PSA noted much faster movement in prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages; alcoholic beverages and tobacco; housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels; furnishing, household equipment, and routine maintenance of the house; health; communication; as well as restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services.

Latest data from the PSA showed that the movement of food prices surged to 5.7% in March, from 4.8% in February. Higher price increases were noted for rice, corn, fish, fruits, and vegetables.

“I think it will continue to be an issue most of the year. Maybe it will peter out in the last quarter of the year,” Pernia said on the sidelines of the ADB meeting.

For the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Department of Economic Research, the April inflation rate is expected to settle within the 3.9% to 4.7% range.

“This represents a slight upward revision. Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East caused a sharp increase in international oil prices spilling over to higher domestic petroleum prices for the month,” the BSP said in a separate statement.

“In addition, higher electricity rates in Meralco (Manila Electric Company)-serviced areas as well as higher rice prices due to supply conditions could contribute to additional price pressures,” the central bank added. – Rappler.com