THE headline inflation eased to 6.0 percent in November 2018 as a series of oil price rollbacks slowed down the increase in prices of consumer goods.
Not counting selected food and energy items, however, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported Wednesday, December 5, that core inflation continued to move upward to 5.1 percent in November from 4.9 percent in October and 2.4 percent in November 2017.
In a joint statement, the country’s economic managers said the slowdown in price increases was a result of the anti-inflationary measures taken by the government.
The economic team - composed of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), Department of Finance (DOF) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) - said the latest figure points to “continuing reduction going forward.”
"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," the economic team said.
"This makes us even more determined in curbing inflation and enforcing all measures to guarantee food security," they added.
The November 2018 headline inflation is lower than the 6.4 percent recorded in August and 6.7 percent recorded in September and October, indicating that the economic managers correctly assessed that inflation had peaked in the third quarter.
The November 2018 figure is also well within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) month-ahead forecast of 5.8 percent to 6.6 percent, but lower than the DOF estimate of 6.3 to 6.7 percent. It was, however, double the 3.0 percent recorded in November 2017.
As of November 2018, year-to-date inflation averaged 5.2 percent, just 1.2 percentage points above the high end of the government’s inflation target of 2.0 to 4.0 percent for this year.
The economic team said food and non-alcoholic beverages continue to be the main drivers of inflation.
The PSA said the food and non-alcoholic beverages; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; and communication commodity baskets registered decreases in November.
"Slowdowns in the annual increases were noted in the indices of food and non-alcoholic beverages at eight percent; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels [at] 4.2 percent; and communication [at] 0.4 percent," the statistics agency said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo described the PSA report as “good news.”
"The Palace accepts this (inflation rate recorded in November) as good news. We attribute this to the President’s empathy to public clamor and his decisive action," " Panelo said in a statement.
"We assure everyone that we will continue to be vigilant and monitor the prices of basic goods and commodities to ensure that hunger incidence and food insecurity are eradicated," he added.
Duterte inked on September 21 an administrative order and three memoranda to tame the soaring prices of goods and basic commodities.
On November 14, the President also approved the suspension of the second round of increases in petroleum products, but reversed this decision on Tuesday, December 3, because of the declining global oil prices. (From a report by Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)