By Leo Jaymar G. Uy
INFLATION, as experienced by low-income families, softened in November driven by slowdowns in the growth of prices of food and utilities, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported yesterday.
The consumer price index (CPI) — a measure of the average rate of change in the retail price of a basket of goods and services — showed inflation for the bottom 30% of households easing to 8.2% in November from 9.5% in October, though it was much higher than the 3.4% growth posted in November 2017.
The CPI for the bottom 30% income segment reconfigures the model basket of goods, putting a heavier weight on food, beverage, and tobacco (FBT) as well as other necessities as these are thought to more accurately capture the spending patterns of the poor.
Inflation in the FBT index decelerated to 9.3% in November from the 10.7% reading in October. Likewise, the food -alone index slowed to 8.3% from 9.8% previously.
The PSA noted that relative to their annual rates in October, slower upticks were noted in the following food groups: rice (9.7% in November from 11.5% in October); corn (3.4% from 5.6%); fish (11.3% from 12.6%); fruits and vegetables (10.4% from 13.8%); meat (6.2% from 7.1%); and “miscellaneous” foods (6% from 6.3%).
Price growth in the fuel, light and water index also slowed to 8.1% from 9.8%. On the other hand, increases were seen in the indices of clothing (3.1% from 2.9%); housing and repairs (5.4% from 5.1%); services (3.7% from 3.5%); and miscellaneous goods and services (2.3% from 2.2%).
Inflation for the bottom 30% segment in the National Capital Region declined to 6.2% in November from the previous month’s 6.9%. The same case was also seen for those living outside of Metro Manila, which recorded slower inflation at 8.3% from 9.5%.
Asked for comment, Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at the Union Bank of the Philippines, said: “It was in November that headline inflation eased to 6% from two consecutive months clocking in a 6.7% (September and October). The government’s moves to arrest rising price levels, I can assume, were front and center in the decline of general price levels.”
“The bottom 30% is where much of the inflation is felt and consequently endured. If inflation were to ease quickly, this particular segment of the population should be the recipient of the said decline,” he added. — with Lourdes O. Pilar