MANILA (UPDATE) - Inflation accelerated in August to 4.9 percent as food prices again surged, the state statistics bureau said on Tuesday.
In contrast, inflation in July was at 4 percent, while it was at 2.4 percent in August last year.
This was the fastest rise in prices in 32 months, or since December 2018.
“For food index, the annual growth rate at the national level accelerated to 6.9 percent in August 2021, from 5.1 percent in July 2021. It was observed at 1.7 percent in August 2020,” the Philippine Statistics Authority said.
Prices of meat rose 16.4 percent, fish, 12.4 percent, and vegetables, 15.7 percent, the PSA said. Prices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco also climbed 11.1 percent.
Inflation was even higher for the poor, data from the PSA showed. For the bottom 30 percent of the population, inflation was at 5.2 percent, according to the PSA.
With the August 2021 inflation, the Philippines’ average inflation from January to August 2021 stood at 4.4 percent, while for the bottom 30 percent, the average inflation rate for the year so far was 4.9 percent.
The August number was within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ forecast of 4.1 to 4.9 percent.
Earlier this month the BSP said inflation may remain elevated in the short term before settling within the government target of 2 to 4 percent.
“The risks to the inflation outlook remain broadly balanced over the policy horizon,” BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said after the PSA briefing.
Inflation in 2021 could average 4.1 percent, higher than the previous forecast of 4 percent, the BSP has said in an earlier virtual briefing.
Nicholas Mapa, senior economist at ING Bank, said lack of supplies, particularly for food, clearly pushed up prices.
“Whenever you see inflation jump up from 4 percent to 4.9 percent it is clearly caused or driven by the cost of the supply-side factors,” Maps said.
He pointed out Metro Manila returned to lockdown in August, which meant that demand was subdued for the month.