By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

FRESH PRODUCE. Pasay City residents buy affordable produce and other food items at the Kadiwa ng Pangulo at the Pasay City Hall parking grounds on July 17, 2023. The Philippines’ headline inflation further eased to 3.9 percent in Dec. 2023, lower than the 4.1 percent recorded in November of the same year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority on Friday (Jan. 5, 2024). (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – The government will continue to work hard to make the prices of commodities affordable, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Friday.

Marcos made the vow as he welcomed the latest Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report showing that the Philippines’ headline inflation further eased to 3.9 percent in Dec. 2023, lower than the 4.1 percent recorded in November of the same year.

“Natutuwa akong ibalita na bumaba pa ang inflation rate sa bansa noong Disyembre 2023 sa 3.9 percent – ang pinakamababa noong nakaraang taon, mula sa 4.1 percent para sa Nobyembre 2023 (I am happy to report that the inflation rate in the country in Dec 2023 further decreased to 3.9 percent – the lowest in the previous year, from 4.1 percent for Nov. 2023),” he said in an X post.

Marcos said his administration continues to work hard to improve the condition of the Philippine economy, assuring the public that the government is committed to implementing programs and measures that would ensure the affordability of food and other basic commodities.

“Para sa bagong taon, lalo nating palalakasin ang mga programa para sa agrikultura, at tututukan ang mga hakbang upang mapanatiling abot-kaya ang presyo ng pagkain at iba pang pangunahing bilihin (For the new year, we will further strengthen programs for agriculture and focus on measures to keep the prices of food and other basic commodities affordable),” Marcos said.

According to the PSA report, the downtrend in the overall inflation in Dec. 2023 was primarily driven by the lower year-on-year growth in the index of housing, water, electricity, and gas and other fuels, at 1.5 percent from Nov. 2023’s 2.5 percent.

This was followed by food and non-alcoholic beverages, with 5.4 percent inflation in December from 5.7 percent in November.

Lower annual increments were also noted in clothing and footwear (4.2 percent from 4.3 percent); furnishings, household equipment, and routine household maintenance (4.5 percent from 4.7 percent); health (3.7 percent from 3.8 percent); information and communication (0.5 percent from 0.6 percent); recreation, sport, and culture (4.2 percent from 4.9 percent); and personal care, and miscellaneous goods and services (4.6 percent from 4.8 percent).

The PSA reported that the top three commodity groups contributing to the Dec. 2023 headline inflation were food and non-alcoholic beverages (53 percent share or 2.1 percentage points); restaurants and accommodation services (14 percent share or 0.6 percentage points); and housing, water, electricity, and gas and other fuels (8.3 percent share or 0.3 percentage points). (PNA)