Inflation rate slightly up 3.8% in April

By Anna Leah Gonzales

May 7, 2024, 2:02 pm

<p><strong>FOOD PRICES.</strong> The Philippine Statistics Authority says food inflation picked up to 6.3 percent in April 2024 from 5.7 from the previous month. The increase in vegetable prices was one of the contributors to the uptick. <em>(PNA photo by Ben Briones)</em></p>

FOOD PRICES. The Philippine Statistics Authority says food inflation picked up to 6.3 percent in April 2024 from 5.7 from the previous month. The increase in vegetable prices was one of the contributors to the uptick. (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – Headline inflation settled at 3.8 percent in April this year, significantly lower than the 6.6 percent recorded in the same month last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Tuesday.
The headline inflation last month was within the government's 2 to 4 percent target, but was slightly higher than the 3.7 percent in March this year.
In a briefing, PSA Undersecretary and National Statistician Dennis Mapa said the uptrend in the overall inflation in April was primarily influenced by the higher year-on-year increase in food and non-alcoholic beverages at 6 percent from 5.6 percent in March 2024.
Food inflation in particular rose to 6.3 percent from March's 5.7 percent.
Rice, however, recorded a lower inflation rate of 23.9 percent in April, down from 24.4 percent in March.
"Ang nakita namin bumababa ng kunti ang world price ng rice. Nag peak siya January 2024 and then may pagbaba nung Feb(ruary) and March. Konti lang (What we saw was world prices of rice slightly declined. It peaked last January 2024 and then there's a slight decline last February and March. Just a bit)," Mapa said.
"But the trajectory is that two months na siya dun sa world prices na bumaba so this might have impact dun sa pag-decline ng presyo ng bigas ng konti (But the trajectory is that world prices are declining for the past two months so this might have impact in the decline of rice prices just a bit)," he added.
Mapa said the faster annual growth rate of the transport index at 2.6 percent in April from 2.1 percent the previous month also contributed to the uptrend of the overall inflation.
In a statement, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that while inflation remains within target, the increase underscores the need for vigilance.
“We are taking comprehensive measures to ensure food security amid geopolitical concerns and weather patterns worsened by climate change," Balisacan said.
"The government’s major strategies aim to increase productivity, build the resilience of the agriculture sector, and improve the efficiency of food systems,” he added.
Last April 30, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order (EO) No. 59 to expedite the implementation of the country’s infrastructure flagship projects (IFPs).
Several IFPs are intended to improve the connectivity of the country’s agriculture sector to the market, thus reducing transport costs.
“Meanwhile, we must augment local production during shortages to ensure an adequate food supply at affordable prices for all Filipinos. Food insecurity extends beyond economic strain -- it directly impacts the well-being of all Filipinos,“ Balisacan said. 
Failure to augment local production during shortages perpetuates poverty and exacerbates vulnerability, he added. 
EO 59 complements the directives under Administrative Order No. 20, which reconstituted a surveillance team consisting of the Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Interior and Local Government and Justice departments, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Competition Commission, National Bureau of Investigation, and Philippine National Police.
The team oversees the importation and distribution of agricultural products, prevents price manipulation, and addresses other forms of unfair or anti-competitive commercial practices. 
“We prioritize food security, economic growth, and the welfare of our producers and consumers,” Balisacan said. “Our actions aim to boost local production and prepare for any challenges in food supply and price upticks.”
Medium-term inflation path
In a separate statement, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the latest inflation outturn is consistent with its expectations that inflation could accelerate temporarily above the target range in the next two quarters of the year due to the possible negative impact of adverse weather conditions on domestic agricultural output and positive base effects.
The BSP, however, expects the average inflation to return to the target range for full year 2024 and 2025.
"The risks to the inflation outlook continue to lean toward the upside. Possible further price pressures are linked mainly to higher transport charges, elevated food prices, higher electricity rates, and global oil prices," it said.
The BSP said the potential minimum wage adjustments could also give rise to second-round effects.
"Looking ahead, the Monetary Board will consider the latest inflation and Q1 (first quarter) 2024 GDP (gross domestic product) outturns, among other information, in its upcoming monetary policy meeting on 16 May 2024," it added.
The BSP assured it continues to support the national government’s non-monetary measures to address supply-side pressures on prices and sustain the disinflation process. (PNA)