MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - Philippine inflation eased in August on slower food and beverage price movements, according to government data released on Friday.
The consumer price index rose at a slower annual pace of 2.4 percent for the month versus 2.7 percent in July, slightly lower than the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' forecast range of 2.5 to 3.3 percent range.
Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and fuel items, came in at 3.1 percent.
“Ang headline inflation sa bansa ay bumagal ng 2.4 percent sa August 2020…Ang pangunahing dahilan ng pababa ng antas ng inflation ay ang mas mabagal na paggalaw ng presyo ng food and alcoholic beverages,” National Statistician Dennis Mapa said in a virtual press briefing.
(Headline inflation slowed to 2.4 percent in August 2020. A major reason for the decline is the slow price movement of food and alcoholic beverages.)
The slower increase in prices of fish, meat, and vegetables as well as the slower price movements in alcoholic beverages and tobacco are among the major contributors to the downward trend, data showed.
Restaurants and miscellaneous services also contributed to the decline in inflation for the month.
"The August inflation of 2.4 percent is lower than the BSP’s assessment but is consistent with the expectation that inflation will remain benign over the policy horizon. The balance of risks tilts toward the downside owing largely to potential disruptions to domestic and global economic activity of the ongoing pandemic," BSP Gov. Benjamin Diokno said in a statement.
Malacañang credited the easing of inflation to the gradual reopening of the economy.
"Keeping the prices of basic commodities stable in this period of global health crisis and economic uncertainty remains our topmost priority," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
"We will therefore continue to monitor prices of basic goods and make sure there is unhampered flow in the movement and delivery of essential commodities to other places, notwithstanding the localized actions imposed in some areas," he added.
Metro Manila and some key provinces remain under the looser general community quarantine.
The Philippines employs a 4-level community quarantine scheme ranging from the strictest enhanced community quarantine to the most relaxed modified GCQ (MGCQ).
The quarantine level dictates the type of business activities allowed in a certain area, as well as travel restrictions.
Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan and Laguna, however, were placed back under modified enhanced community quarantine from Aug. 4 to Aug. 18 to give the health care system "breathing space" as cases surged.
Under MECQ, more businesses had to close again, including gyms, internet shops and salons, while dining in was again suspended to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The Philippines fell into recession after the gross domestic product dropped 16.5 percent in the second quarter.