Philippine inflation accelerates to 4 pct in January

BY  | FROM  | 2018-02-06 19:55

Philippine inflation rate accelerated to 4 percent in January this year, the fastest in over three years, said the government data released on Tuesday.

"Increases in food and non-food prices pushed the country's inflation to 4 percent in January 2018, hitting the upper band of the government target," the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said in a statement.

The agency said the inflation rate recorded in January 2018 is higher than the previous month's 3.3 percent and the 2.7 percent recorded in January 2017.

"The faster overall price increase of goods can be attributed mainly to the 4.5 percent increase in the food and non-alcoholic beverages segment, which constitutes 39 percent of the consumer basket," the NEDA said.

The Central Bank of the Philippines said January's 4 percent inflation rate is the fastest since the 4.3 percent rate recorded in October 2014.

It said the faster price adjustments, especially for fruits and corn, can be partly traced to the lingering effects of successive typhoons that occurred in the last quarter of 2017.

The push in inflation is partly due to TRAIN, considering particularly the excise on fuel and additional sin taxes," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said, referring to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) that the Duterte administration implemented in January this year.

Pernia reiterated, however, that the effects of the TRAIN, which overhauled the country's tax system for the first time in two decades, would be minimal and temporary.

However, the Central Bank Governor Nestor Espenilla said in a text message to reporters said the 4 percent inflation rate is "due mainly to combined first round effects of TRAIN, oil prices, and food to some extent."

"We think these are temporary drivers of inflation and would eventually stabilize," Espenilla said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed the TRAIN into law last December. It took effect on Jan. 1.

Under the TRAIN, the government cut personal income tax rate, but expanded the value-added tax base.

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