By Marissa Mae M. Ramos, Researcher

THE wholesale price growth of construction materials in Metro Manila rose in April, albeit at a slower pace, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Friday.

The construction materials wholesale price index (CMWPI) grew 1.5% year-on-year in April, against an increase of 1.6% in March.

The deceleration in the CMWPI was driven by a further decline in fuels and lubricants to minus 19.2% in April from minus 5.7% in March. Electrical works, and plumbing fixtures and accessories/waterworks also contributed to the slowdown with 0.7% (from 1.4%) and 1.2% (from 1.4%), respectively.

The year-on-year growth in other commodities remained unchanged from the previous month: tileworks (17.5%); PVC pipes (7.5%); glass and glass products (7.1%); galvanized iron sheets (2.8%); sand and gravel (1.4%); concrete products and cement (1.3%); painting works (0.9%); doors, jambs, and steel casement (0.6%); and reinforcing and structural steel (0.3%).

The wholesale price of plywood also continued to decrease at the same rate at minus 0.4% in April while flat growth was noted in asphalt and machinery and equipment rental.

Meanwhile, faster increments were recorded in lumber (4.4% from 3.3%) and hardware (5.0% from 4.7%).

“The slower year-on-year increase in wholesale prices of construction materials in April… may be attributed to the sharp decline in oil/petroleum products (near two-decade lows) that, in turn, led to lower prices of construction materials based on oil/petroleum… largely due to slower demand and reduced economic activities with the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) in Luzon for the whole month of April and the lockdown in many countries around the world,” Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in an email.

Among the economic activities restricted during the ECQ, the economist said, were construction, real estate, and other related activities that dampened demand for construction materials.

“For the coming months, any gradual easing of the lockdown would lead to some resumption of construction, infrastructure, and other real estate activities… Thus, there may be some slight pick-up in the prices of construction materials in the coming months, but could still be limited and could remain relatively lower with the expected gradual resumption of business activities, including construction, infrastructure, and real estate activities,” he added.