PH August inflation nears 3-year low as rice tariffication caps food prices
MANILA, Philippines — Prices of basic goods and services rose at their slowest pace in almost three years in August as the effects of the Duterte administration’s anti-inflation measures — especially the controversial rice tariffication law — began to take root across the economy.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the country’s headline inflation rate decelerated further to 1.7 percent last month, marking the lowest consumer price index level since the 1.8 percent recorded in October 2016.
“The slowdown of inflation in August 2019 was mainly due to the slower annual increase in the index of the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages at 0.6 percent,” the PSA said in a statement, adding that the economy also saw slower annual rates last month for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (1.8 percent); health (3.1 percent); recreation and culture (1.8 percent); and restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services (3.2 percent).
The transport index, which dropped by 0.2 percent, also contributed to the downtrend of inflation this month,” the agency said.
The lower August inflation raised expectations that the central bank would continue cutting interest rates over the next few months in a bid to help fuel economic growth after the first semester’s lackluster performance.
“With inflation careening below the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ own target, we expect the [central bank] governor to deliver on his pledge and cut policy rates by an additional 25 basis points at the Sept. 26 [Monetary Board] meeting,” ING Bank senior economist Nicholas Mapa said in an emailed note to the press.
Meanwhile, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a statement that “the latest inflation outturn is consistent with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ prevailing assessment that it will continue to decelerate in the third quarter of 2019 and picky up slightly in the fourth quarter.”
He warned, however, that deepening trade tensions between China and the US have raised economic uncertainties and risk pushing local prices up once more. /muf
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