MANILA -- Higher oil and food prices mainly pushed up the country’s inflation rate to 2.9 percent in January, its fastest in eight months since June 2019.

The annual rate was 2.5 percent in December 2019, and at 4.4 percent in January 2019.

In a press briefing Wednesday, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Undersecretary Claire Dennis Mapa attributed the upward trend in last month’s inflation to higher increment in transport, particularly petroleum and fuels for personal transport equipment and ferry/ship fare.

Mapa said higher annual increase in alcoholic beverages and tobacco; and housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels also contributed to the uptrend.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages, with an annual rate of 2.2 percent and a share of 30.8 percent to the overall inflation, was the top contributor to higher prices of basic goods last month. Fish, vegetables and meat shared in the pick-up, he said.

“For the month of January, rice is negative 6.5 percent. This is one of the reasons why the food inflation is relatively low,” he added.

Rice deflation was observed for the ninth consecutive month.

Mapa said higher prices of chicken and negative inflation for pork were also observed during the month amid the African swine fever (ASF).

“Right now, we are more concerned with the food products because of the ASF so we are tracking fish in the food basket in particular. Fish had relatively higher inflation past 8 percent, also vegetables and beef and chicken,” he said.

Mapa further said a slower annual increase of 2.6 percent was noted in restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services index in January 2020.

Inflation in the National Capital Region, however, slowed down to 2.7 percent in January from 2.8 percent in the previous month due to the slowdown in the annual increase of food and non-alcoholic beverages index.

Those in Areas Outside the National Capital Region went up further by 3.0 percent from 2.4 percent following the trend at the national level. (PNA)