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Inflation eases amid lower food, non-alcoholic beverage prices

The rate of increase in consumer prices slowed last month due to lower costs of food items, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed yesterday.

(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The country’s headline inflation eased to 2.4 percent in August from 2.7 percent in the previous month, but higher compared with 1.7 percent in the same period last year.

Heavily weighted food and nonalcoholic beverages decelerated to 1.8 percent during the month from July’s 2.4 percent.

In particular, food inflation eased further to 1.7 percent last month from 2.5 percent in July, but higher compared with 0.3 percent a year ago, while prices of rice sustained their downward trajectory at -1.1 percent.

Similarly, other commodity groups posted lower inflation with alcoholic beverages and tobacco, 17.7 percent; clothing and footwear, 1.9 percent; furnishing, household equipment, and routine maintenance of the house, 3.9 percent.

Likewise, education settled at 0.1 percent, while restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services at 2.3 percent.

Contributing also to lower inflation was recreation and culture whose index declined by -0.1 percent from 1.1 percent in July.

On the other hand, inflation for housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels slightly went up by 0.9 percent from 0.8 percent in the previous month. Retaining their previous month’s inflation rates were health (2.8 percent), transport (6.3 percent), and communication (0.3 percent). Core inflation, which excludes selected food and energy items, also slowed down to 3.1 percent in August from 3.3 percent in the previous month.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said that improving supply chain efficiency in agriculture is needed to sustain a low and stable inflation in the country amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and impending typhoons.

“As we continuously implement varying levels of community quarantines and localized lockdowns in the country, we need the government and the private sector to tap local agricultural produce and maximize the use of digital technologies to ensure stability in the supply chain,” Chua said.

He also underscored the need to effectively manage the supply and allocation of agricultural commodities to ensure enough buffer stock, prevent wastage and spoilage, and minimize the losses of farmers.

This includes facilitating the delivery of vegetables and other agricultural commodities to Metro Manila and other regions, he said.

“Investments in cold storage facilities and innovations in food packaging and processing need to be increased as well, alongside the boosting of agricultural production, both in rural and urban areas, through the government’s ‘Plant, Plant, Plant program,’” Chua said.

To mitigate possible losses and to ensure quick response to possible disaster-prone areas, he also highlighted the need for preemptive preparations on production support, crop insurance, and other recovery programs, as La Niña is seen to come by late September or October.

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