The rate of increase in prices of goods and services further slowed for the fifth month in a row in March.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced on Friday that inflation rate in March was 3.3 percent, driven by lower food prices. This is the lowest inflation rate since January 2018. The February figure was 3.8 percent inflation rate, and in March last year 4.8 percent.
The PSA said inflation was tempered by lower prices of food, non-alcoholic beverages, alcoholic beverages and tobacco. These commodities weigh heavily in the inflation basket of goods..
Metro Manila recorded an inflation rate of 3.2 percent, lower than 3.8 percent rate in February and 5.2 percent in March 2018.
Meanwhile, regions outside Metro Manila recorded a 3.4 percent average inflation rate, lower than 3.8 percent in February and 4.1 percent in March 2018.
The region with the highest inflation rate is MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) with 4.8 percent while Zamboanga Peninsula has the lowest with two percent.
Close watch for El Niño
Malacañang said it was pleased with slower inflation. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a statement Friday, said the slide would continue for the rest of the year.
However, he said the government would still be on the lookout for prices of goods and services amid the El Niño episode.
“The Palace calls on everyone to participate in water preservation not only in agriculture but also in our daily consumption to increase our resiliency against this extreme weather phenomenon,” Panelo said.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) shared the sentiment.
“The latest inflation outturn is consistent with the BSP’s expectations that inflation will continue to settle within the target range for 2019 and 2020. However, the possibility of a stronger and prolonged El Niño episode together with the continued rise in global crude oil prices provide upside price pressures over the near term,” the central bank said in a statement.
It added that a “potential slowdown” in economic activity amid the delayed budget could pose some risks to inflation.