February inflation hits three-year high
Inflation in February 2017 rose to 3.3 percent from 2.7 percent in the previous month as prices of food and non-food items rose, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Tuesday.
The figure last broke through the three percent range in October 2014 when inflation was at 3.7 percent.
Although the figure is within the government’s range of 2 to 4 percent, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement “ risks to the inflation outlook appear to be tilted to the upside. This could drive inflation towards the higher end of the target.”
Pernia added “risks to inflation that we see on the external side include increase in the price of oil and the depreciation of peso.”
Price increases in rice, meat, fish, and vegetables pushed up the food subgroup inflation to 4.3 percent in February 2017 from last month’s 3.6 percent, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said.
For meat products, the country’s temporary ban on poultry imports from South Korea, Germany, France, Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Kuwait in response to the Avian Flu outbreak may have contributed to the limited supply.
Higher rice prices can be due to lower inventories, which fell by 17.9 percent in January 2017 to December 2016, due to reduced palay production in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Price increases of housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels drove the non-food subgroup inflation to 2.5 percent in February 2017 from last month’s 2.0 percent.
Another risk is the effect of the National Food Authority’s memorandum that allowed the entry of rice imports under the minimum access volume program only from October 2016 until February 28 2017. “This will tighten the rice supply, which translates to higher food prices,” said Pernia.
Within the region, all the ASEAN-5 economies except Thailand experienced faster inflation rates in the first two months of 2017, which coincides with rising oil prices in the international market. DMS