INFLATION rate in poverty-stricken Eastern Visayas stood at 4.5 percent in January 2018, higher than the previous month’s data and significantly faster than the figure seen in the same period last year.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on February 15 that the region’s inflation rate was 0.5 percent higher from 4 percent a month ago and 1.7 percent more from 2.8 percent recorded in January 2017.

Faster inflation was buoyed by the higher cost of transport, food beverages, tobacco, furnishings, household equipment, and routine house maintenance.

In contrast, annual price changes has slackened in housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, and health from December 2017 to January 2018.

National Economic and Development Authority (Neda)-Eastern Visayas Director Bonifacio Uy said the inflation rise is expected due to the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law that adjusted oil and automobile excise taxes, and introduced excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

“The impact of faster inflation will be minimized with financial assistance to poor families, lowered and simplified personal income taxes, and the subsidy for minimum wage earners,” Uy added.

Inflation is the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising and, consequently, the purchasing power of peso is falling.

“We are hoping that this is temporary as government moves to stabilize production to bring down the level of prices of goods and services,” Uy said.

The region’s purchasing power of peso was recorded at P0.61 in January 2018. This is weaker compared with the P0.62 registered in December 2017. This means that goods and services worth 100 pesos in 2006 only costs P61 in January 2018.

Northern Samar, the region’s poorest province, registered the highest inflation rate in the region at 7.3 percent, while Southern Leyte posted the lowest inflation at 1.5 percent. Northern Samar’s poverty incidence is at 47.9 percent, higher than the 30.7 percent in the regional level. (PNA)