MANILA, Feb 5 (Mabuhay) — Philippine inflation quickened in January driven by higher food prices, the state statistics bureau said on Friday.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the consumer price index rose at a faster annual pace of 4.2 percent last month, its highest since the 4.4 percent inflation seen in January 2019.

This was above the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ forecast range of 3.3 percent to 4.1 percent.

Pork prices have risen as African swine fever (ASF) decimated hog populations across Luzon, while chicken prices have also gone up as supplies dwindled with many poultry farms gone bankrupt last year.

Pork prices rose 17.1 percent in January, PSA said.

Prices rose even faster in the National Capital Region which saw 4.3 percent inflation.

The Philippines stands out among major Southeast economies for seeing prices continue to rise. Other countries are even seeing deflation as the COVID-19 pandemic depresses demand.

The BSP is set to meet on Feb. 11 to make its first monetary policy decision this year.

Benign inflation last year allowed the BSP to cut its policy rate by 200 basis points to a record low of 2 percent to support the economy which saw its worst contraction since World War 2.

While the central bank at the start of the year said that inflation was the least of its worries, it later said inflation may quicken in January.  (MNS)

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