MANILA – The Philippines recorded its lowest monthly inflation rate for 2021, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Wednesday the headline inflation rate eased to 3.6 percent in December from 4.2 percent in November 2021.
The decline was primarily driven by slower food inflation, which decreased to 3.2 percent in December from 4.1 percent in the previous month.
In particular, vegetable inflation fell to -10 percent from -1.8 percent, while fish inflation also decelerated to 7 percent from 7.9 percent in the same period.
However, meat inflation slightly increased to 11.3 percent in December from 10.7 percent in November 2021, partly due to the increase in pork inflation to 17.9 percent from 17.3 percent.
“With the National Capital Region (NCR) and the neighboring provinces of Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan now under Alert Level 3, it is important to ensure affordable food prices and the continued delivery of goods and services. To temper inflation in meat, especially pork, the government is working to increase local supply and ensure regular unloading of stocks from cold storages,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said in a statement.
Chua said local supply needs would be augmented by pork imports through increased utilization of the pork minimum access volume (MAV) plus under lowered tariffs under Executive Orders (EO) 133 and 134.
As of December 27, only about 46 percent or 60,000 MT out of 130,000 MT of the MAV plus with import certificates was utilized.
To help ensure a stable pork supply throughout this year, the NEDA reiterated its recommendation to extend the validity of EO 133 to December 2022.
Chua also called for the distribution of more imported pork outside the NCR, adding that meat is among the top three drivers of inflation in 14 out of 16 regions outside the NCR in December 2021.
Non-food inflation also decreased to 3.7 percent in December from 4.1 percent in November.
This was primarily driven by slower transport inflation, which fell to 6.1 percent from 8.8 percent, as the decline in international crude oil prices translated to a decrease in local prices of petroleum products.
“The emergence of new variants has shown us that the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) virus is not going to go away easily. The good news is even as we temporarily impose more stringent restrictions to contain the spread of the Omicron variant, we have learned to manage the risks and live with the virus. Economic prospects in 2022 remain promising, and we urge everyone to play their role in the recovery by getting vaccinated, availing of booster shots, and strictly adhering to the minimum public health standards,” Chua added. (PNA)