PH inflation rate at 4-month low of 6% in November

The country’s inflation rate fell to a four-month low of 6 percent in November amid government efforts to tame rising prices, indicating a downward path.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Wednesday reported that last month’s inflation was the lowest since the 5.7-percent rate in July, and it declined by 0.3 percent month on month.

Inflation surged to 6.7 percent in September and October this year, and 3 percent in November 2017.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages continued to be the main drivers of inflation, which declined to 8 percent in November from 9.4 percent the previous month.

“It is comforting for us that the slowdown will alleviate the struggles of poor Filipinos, especially now that the holiday season is just around the corner. This makes us even more determined in curbing inflation and enforcing all measures to guarantee food security,” the country’s top economic managers said in a joint statement.

They particularly cited the need to continue implementing Administrative Order No. 13, removing restrictions on the importation of agricultural products, thus boosting food supply and bringing down the price of staple food item.

“Most importantly, we must ensure the timely arrival of rice imports to compensate for the lost palay harvest in the third quarter of the year,” they added. “With the recent passage of the Rice Tarrification bill in Congress, we expect rice prices to go down further still.”

Inflation in January to November averaged 5.2 percent, above the high end of the government’s inflation target range of 2 percent to 4 percent for the year.

“We are optimistic that inflation will stabilize further in the near term. But we will keep a vigilant eye on upward pressures, such as volatility in the global oil market,” the economic managers said.

National Statistician and PSA head Lisa Grace Bersales said last month’s figure was the first time the country had a negative month-on-month growth in inflation since November 2017.

“The last time we had such a negative one was in February 2016. This is really an indication of the decreasing trend in inflation,” she told reporters.

Bersales said government efforts to tame rising prices could have resulted in the decline in inflation.

“Especially rice, the government took efforts to ensure that more supply of rice is available, and they controlled the prices — (the imposition of) suggested retail prices (SRP). When you talk about rice, that has huge effect on inflation,” she said.

Meanwhile, the PSA said slowdowns in the annual increases were also noted in the indices of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels at 4.2 percent; and communication, 0.4 percent.

The annual growth in food index further eased to 7.7 percent in November 2018 from 9.2 percent the previous month.

Compared to their previous month’s annual rates, slower annual increments were observed in fish -12.5 percent; vegetables -11.5 percent; sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery -10.5 percent; and rice -8.1 percent.

In the National Capital Region, inflation further decelerated to 5.6 percent in November 2018 from 6.1 percent the previous month.

Annual inflation in Areas Outside NCR slowed down to 6.2 percent last month from 6.8 percent in October.PNA