PH headline inflation slightly up to 3.4% in February 2024

PH headline inflation slightly up to 3.4% in February 2024
SunStar File

THE Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has recorded an increase in the February 2024 headline inflation, which clocked in at 3.4 percent.

In a statement, the PSA said the February 2024 headline inflation, which is .6 percentage points higher than the 2.8 percent January 2024 inflation, was due to the higher year-on-year increase in the heavily-weighted food, non-alcoholic beverages and transport.

The year-on-year increase in the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages was recorded at 4.6 percent in February from 3.5 percent in January, while that of transportation increased from .3 percent to 1.2 percent.

Higher inflation was also recorded on housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, as well as alcoholic beverages and tobacco.

The PSA noted that food and non-alcoholic beverages contributed 1.8 percentage points in the total February 2024 headline inflation, .5 percentage points from restaurant and accommodation services, and .2 percentage points from housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels.

The national food inflation stood at 4.8 percent, higher than the 3.3 percent in January 2024, due to the slower year-on-year decrease in vegetables, tubers, plantains, cooking bananas and pulses index at 11.0 percent. Meat and other parts of slaughtered land animals index recorded a 0.7 percent annual increment.

Cereals and cereal products, which include rice, corn, flour, bread and other bakery products, pasta products, and other cereals, also contributed to the upward trend of food inflation in the country which registered a faster annual increment of 17.0 percent in February from 16.3 percent in the previous month.

Lower inflation rates, on the other hand, were noted in the following indices:

* Clothing and footwear -- 3.6 percent from 3.8 percent;

* Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance -- 3.3 percent from 3.9 percent

* Health -- 3.0 percent from 3.3 percent;

* Information and communication -- 0.4 percent from 0.5 percent

* Recreation, sport and culture -- 3.8 percent from 4.0 percent

* Restaurants and accommodation services -- 5.3 percent from 5.5 percent

* Personal care, and miscellaneous goods and services -- 3.8 percent from 4.0 percent

The following food groups also indicated lower annual growth rates:

* Fish and other seafood -- 0.7 percent from 1.2 percent

* Milk, other dairy products and eggs -- 3.5 percent from 5.6 percent;

* Fruits and nuts -- 8.7 percent from 10.0 percent; and

* Ready-made food and other food products not elsewhere classified -- 4.6 percent from 4.7 percent

Meanwhile, in a statement, National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan assured that the government is intensifying its efforts to mitigate the effects of the El Niño phenomenon, which is one of the factors seen to affect the increase of prices or goods and services at a certain period of time, and help keep the inflation rate within the government’s target.

Balisacan noted rice as a top contributor to the month’s inflation, accounting for 2.1 percentage points, while the slight acceleration in meat inflation was attributed to price increases in pork and beef.

“As we navigate the economic landscape, it is imperative that we remain vigilant and proactive in our approach to managing inflationary pressures. While we have seen some relief from certain inflation risks, we must not become complacent. The potential impact of a strong El Niño weather pattern on food prices is a significant concern for our community. Rising transportation costs, electricity rates, and volatile oil markets are putting pressure on household finances. Our team is actively formulating robust strategies with the concerned agencies in response to these challenges. We must be agile, adaptive, and forward-thinking,” he said.

Balisacan said they are hopeful as international rice prices have started to ease, and local supply is expected to increase with the dry season harvest beginning this month through April.

He said the Department of Agriculture (DA) is collaborating closely with the International Rice Research Institute to increase the country’s rice production.

Meanwhile, the next phase of the vaccine test for African Swine Fever (ASF) is awaiting Food and Drug Administration approval.

Once the ASF vaccine is proven efficacious, the government will roll out a vaccination campaign to help ensure adequate pork supply in the country. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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