MANILA— Inflation in April remained unchanged from the previous month as food prices began to stabilize after rising for several months, the state statistics bureau said on Wednesday.
The consumer price index rose 4.5 percent in April similar to the 4.5 percent in March and within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' forecast of 4.2 to 5 percent.
April inflation still breached the government target of 2 to 4 percent.
"The latest outturn is consistent with expectations that inflation would remain elevated this year, owing to supply side pressures, before settling close to the midpoint of the target range in 2022," Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a statement.
Diokno said it could settle at 4.2 percent for the entire year before easing to 2.7 percent to 2.8 percent in 2022.
Prices, however, could be volatile in an environment where the policy rate is too far or much lower than the current inflation rate, Bank of the Philippine Islands lead economist June Neri told ANC.
The key interest rate in the Philippines is currently at its lowest level of 2 percent.
"While it could be true that inflation is transitory and therefore there is no need to hike until next year, there is also the possibility that it can persist because prior to the pandemic, the trend of inflation is already upwards," Neri said.
The COVID-19 pandemic also "continues to pose downside risks" to inflation outlook and economic growth prospects, the central bank chief said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier approved a measure reducing tariffs for imported pork meat products to augment supply. However, some criticized that the move could negatively impact the local hog sector.
Finance Secretary Carlo Dominguez III said reducing pork import tariffs temporarily could help Filipinos save P67.38 billion.
Economist are also urging the government to ramp up aid to help the swine industry repopulate.