Inflation among poor households easing
Declining food prices provided relief to poor families and brought down inflation among the bottom 30-percent income households to 5.9 percent in January.
The latest Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed that the rate of increase in prices of basic commodities being purchased by indigent households at the start of the year declined from 7.2 percent in December.
The inflation rate for bottom 30-percent income households in the country last month was the lowest in 10 months, but higher than January 2017’s 4.7 percent.
Inflation of the heavily weighted food, beverage and tobacco index slowed to 6.7 percent in January from 8.1 percent last December.
The increase in housing and repair costs eased to 4.6 percent last month from December’s 5.5 percent.
Prices of fuel, light and water services also slowed to 3.4 percent from 5.3 percent in the previous month, while services eased to 3.5 percent from 3.6 percent.
Also, inflation for the food alone index was lower in January at 5.8 percent from 7.1 percent a month ago, but higher than the 4.8 percent recorded a year ago.
Last year, amid food supply bottlenecks, especially of rice, inflation among poor families jumped to 7.2 percent from 3 percent in 2017, 1.4 percent in 2016 and 1.6 percent in 2015, PSA data showed.
As such, President Duterte in September last year issued administrative orders that made food importation easier in order to meet domestic demand—a move regarded by economic managers as a major contributor to the downtrend in headline inflation toward the end of 2018, although the rate averaged at a one-decade high of 5.2 percent for the entire year.
Besides elevated food prices, the new or higher excise taxes slapped on consumption under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act as well as skyrocketing global oil prices pushed inflation up. —BEN O. DE VERA
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