MANILA - Inflation accelerated in February, driven by higher prices of food, alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, official data released Tuesday showed.
The consumer price index rose 3.9 percent in February compared to 3.4 percent in January based on 2012 prices. Using 2006 prices as base, the CPI rose to 4.5 percent from 4 percent during the same period.
The Philippine Statistics Authority cited the 4.8-percent increase in prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages and the 16.9-percent rise in prices of alcoholic drinks and tobacco products.
The government raised taxes on fuel, sugar-sweetened drinks and cars, among others, from Jan. 1 as part of the first package of tax reforms.
Its impact on inflation, however, will be "moderate," and will not be felt until February, Finance Usec. Karl Kendrick Chua had said.
Investors will watch how the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will update its assumptions based on the new base, said ATR Asset Management research head Jomar Lacson.
Before the new data was released Tuesday, the BSP set a 2 to 4 percent target for inflation this year. It did not raise borrowing rates at its first policy meeting for the year on Feb 8. It will meet again on interest rates on March 22.
"I feel it should be apples to apples. If 2012 is going to be used, we might need to see also how it affects the forecasts," Lacson said.
"We should also note the trajectory, and it is still upward," he said.
An update to the base year when computing inflation was "necessary" to reflect economic conditions, said First Metro Asset Management President Gus Cosio.
"In terms of a rate hike, going by the 2012 base, I feel the situation is not too compelling," Cosio said. -- with reports from Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News