September inflation slows to 11.9%

By Lala Rimando,

Posted at Oct 07 2008 09:30 AM | Updated as of Oct 07 2008 10:03 PM

Consumer prices increased at a slower pace in September after they reached a near 17-year high in August as food and energy costs were tempered by oil price rollbacks.

Inflation rate in September eased to 11.9 percent in September, easing from 12.5 percent a month before.

 Prices contracted month-on-month in September, for the first time since March 2007. It was also the first time since October 2007 that the monthly annual inflation number did not register an increase.

The September inflation data hit the low end of the central bank earlier projections of between 11.8 to 12.7 percent, prompting Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Amando Tetangco to say that the September inflation data is a signal that consumer prices are on its way down.
"The September inflation rate marks the turning point towards declining inflation this year and next," Tetangco said.

The cost of consumer goods and services have been an important barometer for the government for its economic growth targets. On Monday, the BSP kept policy rates unchaged as it anticipated slower inflation data today.

Food costs, in general, grew slower at 17 percent in September, than the 18.1 percent hike in August. In particular, the price of rice and corn, rose only 37 and 27 percent in September, compared to 45 and 32 percent respectively the month before. 

The harvest season for rice and enough supply of corn pulled down these staples' price, balancing out the effect of stormy weather conditions during the month that caused supply lags of vegetables and fruits, and kept fishermen from their usual fishing trips.

The slower increase in food costs was felt most outside the National Capital Region (NCR) where prices jumped to an average of 20 percent in August. Of all the regions, Zamboanga Peninsula experienced the most noticed slowdown of 15 percent difference in food prices. In August, food prices skyrocketed to 46 percent; in September it was only 31 percent.

The general downward adjustments in electricity rates and the series of rollbacks in the prices of LPG, kerosene, gasoline and diesel also contributed to the slower inflation rate in the month. 

Meantime, prices of other non-food and energy consumer items still recorded higher rates in September. Core inflation, which strips out some volatile food and energy items, reached an annual 7.5 percent in September compared to 7 percent in August. -- with Reuters