THE inflation rate in Western Visayas in March has slowed down to three percent, which is three-point percentage lower than the previous month’s 3.3 percent, amid the prevailing quarantine measures put in placed due to coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
A general community quarantine was declared in Negros Occidental and Bacolod City on March 15. It was elevated to an enhanced community quarantine on March 31.
For the local business sector, this is a bad signal.
Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said economic issues are starting to kick in.
Carbon said money is not circulating or the purchasing power of the public has diminished substantially that demand for goods and services has almost come to a stop.
“It is about time the economic stimulus of the government has to be mobilized to rouse economic activities and prevent business closures and loss of jobs,” he added.
Inflation is a sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.
That of Western Visayas is actually lower than the country’s headline inflation of 2.5 percent, slightly lower than previous month’s 2.6 percent.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the slowdown in inflation was primarily due to transport whose index dropped at an annual rate of 1.8 percent.
Slower annual increments in the indices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco at 18.0 percent; and housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels at 1.1 percent, also pushed down the inflation during the month, it added.
For Western Visayas alone, the agency reported that lower inflation rates were noted among most of the commodity groups.
For alcoholic beverages and tobacco, the inflation dropped from 20.5 to 18.4 percent; clothing and footwear - 3.3 to 3.0 percent; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels - 3.8 to 2.3 percent; furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house - 6.1 to 5.9 percent; health - 3.7 to 3.3 percent; and transportation - 2.8 to -1.7 percent.
For other commodity groups like food and non-alcoholic beverages, recreation and culture, and restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services, the inflation went up.
A steady inflation, meanwhile, was noted in communication and education.
For the labor sector, this is probably because of the strict measures taken by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other government agencies to prevent overpricing and hoarding.
Wennie Sancho, secretary general of the General Alliance of Workers Associations (Gawa), this is a welcome development for now amid the economic crisis.
Sancho said the slump in the price of oil is a significant factor in the decrease of inflation.
“Except for grocery and basic items, there was a lack of demand in other products hence no need for more supply resulting in economic slowdown,” he added.