A WORKER cuts metal in a construction area in Binondo, Manila, March 24, 2022. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ RUSSELL PALMA

By Ana Olivia A. Tirona, Researcher

RETAIL PRICES of construction materials in the National Capital Region (NCR) grew to its fastest pace in more than five years in February amid supply chain constraints, preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

According to the PSA, Metro Manila’s construction materials retail price index (CMRPI) quickened to 3.3% in February from 3% in January. This was higher than the 1.1% print seen in the same month last year.

This was the highest year-on-year growth for building materials prices in NCR in more than five years, or since the 3.5% in November 2016. The February figure also matched the 3.3% in July 2018.

Asian Institute of Management Economist John Paolo R. Rivera attributed the February print to supply chain limitations brought about by the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.

“Demand is also high given a more open economy with increased activities, particularly for public and private construction firms,” Mr. Rivera said in a text message.

The Philippine government eased restriction levels in February, which allowed greater mobility and economic activity as COVID-19 cases declined.

“Construction will continue to recover to pre-pandemic levels as demand for both commercial and residential properties will also continue given increased economic activities in urban areas,” Mr. Rivera said.

In the year to date, the CMRPI averaged 3.2%, faster than the 1.2% average in the same period last year.

The February result was driven by faster growth in painting materials and related compounds (2.3% in February from 1.9% in January), plumbing materials (4.5% from 3.8%), and tinsmithing materials (5.2% from 4.2%).

Meanwhile, slower growth in prices were seen in masonry materials (1.9% from 2%) and miscellaneous construction materials (3.4% from 4.4%).

Mr. Rivera sees building activities in both commercial and residential to increase given a sustained economic recovery notwithstanding interruptions and disruptions in the current situation.