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Cebu News

Amid high inflation rate: Prices remain stable

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Except for premium brands, prices of basic commodities in Central Visayas remain within the suggested retail price (SRP) level despite the inflation rate hitting 6.9 percent last month.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Central Visayas noted no drastic increase in the prices of consumer goods as per their latest price monitoring.

“Except for the premium brands which we don’t have control over,” said Joy Suralta, DTI-7 head for consumer protection division.

In an interview with The Freeman yesterday, Suralta said under the over 200 basic commodities monitored by DTI-7, movement of prices is still within the SRP level. She, however, said that there is a pending request from manufacturers to increase the prices of basic commodities in the national level. The request is still under study by the National Price Coordinating Council.

Suralta explained that increase of prices of consumer goods, including premium commodities, are mostly justifiable because of various factors such as climate change, supply chain disruption, among others.

Among the commodities that are categorized as basic necessities and monitored by the DTI are bread, canned fish and marine products, potable water in bottles and containers, processed milk, locally manufactured instant noodles, coffee, salt, laundry soap, detergent, candles, flour,  processed and canned pork, processed and canned beef, poultry meat, vinegar, patis, soy sauce, toilet soap , paper, school supplies, cement, clinker, G.I. sheets, hollow blocks, construction nails , batteries, electrical supplies, light bulbs , steel wires, among others.

Buy Local

Cebuano business leaders are urging consumers to buy locally manufactured products in order to avoid the effects of high inflation.

“This is the best time to support and buy our local products. Although they are not insulated from inflation because of fuel prices they also have a direct impact on sustaining the growth of our local economy, supporting our local producers and help in jobs creation,” said Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) president Kelie Ko.

“The current geopolitical issues we are facing today will continue to result in volatility and uncertainty. Thus, inflationary pressures will remain until they are resolved. Furthermore, our import dependency is not helping,” he added.

Given the unresolved war between Ukraine and Russia and other external factors, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president Charles Kenneth Co said the high inflation rate is not a surprise.

“It’s not surprising that August inflation rate is indeed very high but recent developments shows commodity prices coming down except for the weaker peso because of the strong dollar,” explained Co.

 According to Co, the high inflation is mainly caused by external factors “so there is not much we can do but adjust and adapt to other substitutes that are more affordable.”

Both business leaders are encouraging consumers to patronize local products to avoid the high increase of prices in some commodities, especially imported and premium brands.

MCCI past president Steven Yu also explained that higher inflation rate of 6.9 was mainly brought about by external factors such as the strong dollar and Russia-Ukraine war.

“While more efforts may be needed to tame this, increasing interest rates further is not the correct response to this development. We believe inflation will slowly head back to 2-4 percent without drastic interest rate increases,” Yu said.

Robert Go, former president of the Philippine Retailers Association in Cebu believes that inflation will continue until the last quarter of this year. Headline inflation rose to 6.9 percent year-on-year in September from 6.3 percent in August.

 The close to seven percent inflation rate, however, is still within the 6.6 to 7.4 percent forecast rate of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for September. The resulting year-to-date average inflation of 5.1 percent is above the government’s average inflation target range of 2.0 to 4.0 percent for the year.

Meanwhile, core inflation, which excludes selected volatile food and energy items to depict underlying demand-side price pressures, eased slightly to 4.5 percent in September from 4.6 percent in the previous month.

According to the BSP, inflation increased to 0.6 percent in September from 0.4 percent in August for the month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis.

Most food items posted higher inflation readings year-on-year during the month. Year-on-year vegetable inflation went up, reversing the negative inflation rate in the previous month. Fish inflation also increased due to the adverse effects of seasonal weather conditions on domestic supply.

Non-food inflation rose due to the increase in inflation for heavily weighted CPI items such as rent, utilities (housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels), and restaurants, which offset the lower inflation for transport and education.

According to BSP, the latest inflation reading remains in line with the BSP’s assessment that inflation is likely to stay above target in the near term amid broadening price pressures and second-round effects.

The BSP remains committed to bringing inflation back to the government target and continues to emphasize the importance of urgent non-monetary government interventions to ease domestic supply constraints. Looking ahead, the BSP remains vigilant in monitoring all risks to the inflation outlook and is prepared to take necessary actions to safeguard price stability.- FPL (FREEMAN)

INFLATION

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