THE country’s inflation rate eased to 4.6 percent in October from 4.8 percent in September, driven by the slowdown in food inflation, a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
Year-to-date inflation stands at 4.5 percent, the PSA said.
The October inflation is at the lower end of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) forecast range of 4.5 to 5.3 percent for October 2021.
Food inflation further slowed down to 5.6 percent in October 2021 from 6.5 percent in September due to the decline in vegetables, fish and meat inflation.
Vegetable inflation fell to 11.4 percent from 16.2 percent. Likewise, fish inflation decelerated to 9.5 percent in October from 10.2 percent in September 2021. Rice inflation also remained low and stable, at only 0.5 percent in October.
Meanwhile, meat inflation eased to 11.9 percent in October 2021 from 15.6 percent in the previous month. This was primarily driven by the decline in pork inflation to 23.3 percent from 36.4 percent, following the issuance of Executive Order Nos. 133 and 134 in May 2021 to help address pork supply shortages due to the African swine fever (ASF).
On a month-on-month basis, pork prices fell by an average of 4.1 percent from September, its largest drop since the height of the ASF in 2020.
In a tweet, BSP Gov. Benjamin Diokno said inflation is expected to average above the target range of two to four percent in 2021 but is projected to ease close to the midpoint of the target range in 2022 and 2023.
“The balance of risks to the inflation outlook remains on the upside for the remaining months of 2022, but continues to be broadly balanced for 2022 and 2023,” Diokno said.
He added the private sector’s inflation expectation is also consistent with inflation reverting back to the target by 2022.
Meanwhile, non-food inflation increased from 3.3 percent to 3.8 percent, driven by higher world market prices for oil.
Transport inflation accelerated from 5.2 percent to 7.1 percent, primarily due to the uptick in private transport inflation from 16.7 percent to 25.5 percent. However, public transport inflation remained low at 1.2 percent as fares were regulated.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the government is already implementing measures to help commuters and public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers cope with the rising fuel prices.
The government has provided cash grants amounting to P1 billion for some 178,000 eligible drivers for the remainder of the year.
The government’s Covid-19 task force has also approved the increase of passenger capacity for PUVs in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces from 50 percent to 70 percent, starting Nov. 4, amid the declining number of Covid-19 cases.
This increase in transport capacity will enable drivers to earn more income while making it easier for people to travel.
“Many countries, particularly net oil importers such as the Philippines, are feeling the impact of the rising world oil prices. We will continue monitoring the global developments so we can urgently respond to the impact of elevated oil prices on ordinary Filipinos, especially our PUV drivers,” said Chua.