CONSUMER price growth in February slowed down as concerns also mount that the coronavirus threat might push up inflation.
Consumer price growth eased to 2.6 percent last month from 2.9 percent in January due to slower transport and food inflation, government data released on March 5, 2020 showed.
Falling rice prices continued to temper price pressures since the Rice Tariffication Law was passed on March 5, 2019.
This brings year-to-date inflation to 2.8 percent, within the government’s target range of two to four percent for the year.
“While inflation is expected to remain well within the target for this year, the government must not be complacent and ensure that strategies are well-positioned against risks brought by continuous spread of African swine fever, tighter rice supply from Thailand, and the on-going outbreak of Covid-19,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.
“We call on our colleagues in the government, both in the national and local levels, to stand ready in effectively managing the demand and supply of key agricultural commodities which will possibly be affected by these risks,” he added.
Pernia highlighted the recently reported oversupply of vegetables and possible delayed arrival of imported products due to production and logistics disruptions in view of the Covid-19 outbreak.
He said that providing post-harvest facilities such as cold storage and other logistics support are necessary to assist the affected producers and consumers.
Cebuano rice trader Erwin Gok-ong, president at the Cebu Market Vendors Development Cooperative, said prevailing rice prices in the market have stayed stable in the last four weeks.
“Our prices are stable. We don’t see rice prices going up,” he told SunStar Cebu in Cebuano.
Inflation is a sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.
On a broader assessment, Nicholas Antonio Mapa, senior economist at ING Bank, said the possible economic impact of the coronavirus scare remains on the horizon.
He expected a drag in growth this year “should supply chains suffer and if the virus spreads on shore.”
“The first half affords the Philippines a boon given the low base in first half of 2019—5.6 percent gross domestic product—but should the ill effects drag on the second half, we could be in for another disappointing year of growth,” the economist said. (CSL WITH PR)