By Anna Leah Gonzales
MANILA – The country’s headline inflation further eased to 4.1 percent in November this year, the lowest recorded since the 4 percent in March 2022, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
In a briefing on Tuesday, National Statistician Dennis Mapa said the headline inflation last month was significantly lower than the 8 percent recorded in November last year and the 4.9 percent seen in October this year.
Core inflation, which excludes volatile oil and food items, also decelerated to 4.7 percent from 5.3 percent in October.
PSA data shows the downtrend was primarily brought about by the lower year-on-year growth rate of the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages at 5.7 percent in November 2023 from 7 percent in October 2023.
Food inflation slowed to 5.8 percent, the lowest recorded since the 5.2 percent in May 2022.
This is due to the deflation in vegetables (-2 percent from 11.9 percent) and lower inflation of fish, meat, sugar, bread and other cereals, and fruits.
Also contributing to the downtrend in the overall inflation in November was the deflation in transportation (-0.8 percent from 1 percent) and slower inflation in restaurant and accommodation services (5.6 percent from 6.3 percent).
The restaurants and accommodation services index with a slower inflation rate of 5.6 percent in November from 6.3 percent in the previous month also contributed to the downtrend of the overall inflation.
Year-to-date, headline inflation was at 6.2 percent while core inflation settled at 6.8 percent.
Inflation in the National Capital Region (NCR) also slowed to 4.3 percent from 4.9 percent in October.
For areas outside NCR, headline inflation decelerated to 4.1 percent in November from 4.9 percent the previous month.
Inflation for the bottom 30 percent households also eased to 4.9 percent from 5.3 percent.
In a separate statement, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) attributed the drop in inflation to the timely implementation of strategies to stabilize food supply amid the anticipated domestic and external headwinds in the coming months.
“With the right interventions in place, including the proper and timely deployment of trade policy, we are confident that we can effectively manage inflation and prevent unnecessary upticks in prices of goods and commodities to safeguard the purchasing power of Filipino families, especially those from the most vulnerable sectors,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.
Balisacan said the government needs to continue monitoring the inflation situation in the face of continued price pressures coming from geopolitical tensions and extreme weather situations, further fueling uncertainty.
To ensure sufficient supply and stable prices of rice, the Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook sub-committee on food inflation earlier proposed to maintain the lower tariff rates on rice, corn and swine meat.
Balisacan said differentiated support must also be provided to agricultural producers depending how and when they will be affected by El Niño.
He added measures to reduce transport and delivery costs are also being undertaken.
Based on the latest monitoring by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, a strong El Niño is already present in the country and is projected to intensify in the coming months until the second quarter of 2024.
This could bring below-normal rainfall across the country and disrupt food production and energy generation.
Balisacan said the Toll Regulatory Board and the Department of Agriculture and other agencies and tollway concessionaires are finalizing the details on exempting agriculture delivery trucks from toll increases to mitigate energy- and fuel-related inflationary pressures.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board also provided fuel subsidies to 166,598 public utility vehicles as of Nov. 17.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development also launched the Walang Gutom 2027: Food Stamp Program which provides monetary assistance to low-income households and allow them to purchase selected food commodities from eligible merchants.
“Effective implementation of these programs is crucial to minimize the impact of high prices on low-income households. The government is also implementing strategies and programs to improve local food production and supply and boost the productivity of our farmers by investing in irrigation, flood control, supply chain logistics, and climate change adaptation,” Balisacan said. (PNA)