Faster food price hikes amid lockdown hurt poor families’ pockets in April
Faster food price hikes amid the COVID-19 lockdown in April hurt the pockets of poor families as they had to shell out more despite many of them losing jobs and relying on government assistance.
The latest Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed that the inflation rate for the bottom 30 percent income households went up 2.9 percent year-on-year last month, a 10-month high.
The food alone index rose 2.2 percent nationwide, a faster pace than March’s 1 percent.
“Specifically, annual upticks were higher in the indices of the following food groups during the month: other cereals, flour, cereal preparation, bread, pasta and other bakery products, 2.7 percent; milk, cheese and eggs, 4.3 percent; oils and fats, 1.8 percent; fruits, 10.5 percent; vegetables, 8.3 percent; and food products, not elsewhere classified, 13.1 percent,” the PSA said.
The faster price increases in most food items had been blamed by the government on supply chain disruptions amid the enhanced community quarantine imposed in Luzon and other parts of the country since mid-March to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Fish prices increased at a slower pace, while meat prices were flat compared to March, the PSA added.
On the other hand, prices of rice, corn, as well as sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery in April declined compared to a year ago, PSA data showed.Including nonalcoholic drinks, the heavily weighted food and nonalcoholic beverages index rose 2.3 percent year-on-year last month.
The PSA noted that the year-on-year prices increases in the indices of health, communication, and miscellaneous goods and services also pushed inflation among poor households up in April.
Transport costs, meanwhile, declined by 1.9 percent year-on-year in April amid a lockdown that prohibited nonessential travel while global oil prices plunged as worldwide supply weakened given a pandemic-induced economic contraction.
Outside the National Capital Region (NCR), inflation among the poor rose 2.9 percent, faster than the 1.7-percent rate of increase in prices of basic commodities purchased by low-income households in Metro Manila.
April inflation among poor families outside NCR was faster than March’s 2.4 percent, while the rate in NCR slowed from 1.9 percent a month ago.
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the government gave away P5,000-8,000 to poor households under its social amelioration program, as well as the same range of wage subsidies to temporarily displaced workers of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
During the first four months, inflation for the bottom 30-percent income households averaged 2.5 percent, higher than the end-April national headline inflation of 2.2 percent.
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