Photo by Michael Varcas, The Philippine Star

INFLATION sustained its pace in April from the preceding month even as core inflation eased to a five-month low, the government reported this morning

Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed the consumer price index rose 4.5% year on year last month, unchanged from March, but faster than April 2020’s 2.2%.

April headline inflation was lower than the median 4.7% in an analyst poll BusinessWorld conducted late last week and settled within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) own 4.2-5% estimate.

Year to date, inflation averaged at 4.5%, slightly above the BSP’s 2-4% target band, as well as its inflation forecast of 4.2% for the year.

Inflation eased in the indices of food and non-alcoholic beverages at 4.8% in April from 5.8% in March; and alcoholic beverages and tobacco at 12% from 12.1%.

On the other hand, annual increases were noted in housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels (1.5% from 0.9%); furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house (2.1% from 1.9%); health (3.1% from 2.9%); transport (17.9% from 13.8%); communication (0.3% from 0.2%); and restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services (3.4% from 3.1%).

The following indices saw steady inflation compared with the previous month: clothing and footwear (1.6%); recreation and culture (-0.6%); and education (1.1%).

Food inflation slowed to 5% in April from 6.2% in March, albeit still faster than last year’s 3.4%.

Core inflation, which is used in determining underlying price trends by stripping out volatile prices of food and fuel, stood at 3.3% in April, easing from 3.5% the preceding month. Still, this was higher than the 2.9% core inflation in April 2020.

Core inflation that month was the slowest since the 3.2% print in November 2020, as well as matching the 3.3% figure recorded in December 2020.

So far, core inflation averaged 3.4% this year compared with the 3.1% in 2020’s comparable four months.

Meanwhile, the inflation rate for the bottom 30% of income households stood at 4.9% in April, slower than the 5.5% rate recorded in the previous month, but still faster than the 2.9% in April 2020.

The inflation rate for the bottom 30% takes into account the spending patterns of this income segment. Thus, its consumer price index differs from that of the average household with the former assigning heavier weights on necessities. — Lourdes O. Pilar