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Friday, December 8, 2023

BSP sees inflation easing to 7.4% to 8.2% in March

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Despite the oil price rollback and cheaper fruits and vegetables, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) still expects inflation to be above 8 percent in March 2023.

The BSP said inflation might have averaged 7.4 percent to 8.2 percent in March. Apart from petroleum and fruits and vegetables, lower chicken and sugar prices may have also contributed to this.

However, the BSP said inflation might continue to be high due to the recent increase in prices of electricity and select food items.

“Upward price pressures for the month are expected to emanate from higher electricity rates in Meralco-serviced areas as well as increased prices of other key food items, such as pork, fish, eggs, and rice,” the BSP said.

“Going forward, the BSP remains prepared to respond appropriately to continuing inflation risks in line with its data-dependent approach to monetary policy formulation,” it added.

On Friday, Ibon Foundation Inc. said the increase in prices already merits a wage hike, stressing the minimum wage has not been enough for many Filipino families to live decently.

Citing data from the 2020 Annual Survey of Philippine Business and Industry (ASPBI), Ibon said 238,036 establishments of all employment sizes have P1.8 trillion in total profit and 6.2 million employees.

Raising the P442.97 average daily basic pay of workers to, say, P750 will only transfer 29.2 percent of these profits.

Ibon is also proposing wage subsidies for micro and small establishments that would cover the total cost of the proposed wage hike for one year—P64.6 billion for micro and P159.8 billion for small enterprises.

In February 2023, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that inflation averaged 8.6 percent. This was slightly lower than the 8.7 percent reported in January 2023.

However, economists and PSA were quick to point out that core inflation was the indicator to watch as it reached 7.8 percent in February. The PSA said this is the highest since March 1999 when it was at 8.1 percent.

PSA said this meant core inflation has been steadily increasing for the past 13 to 14 months. Core inflation excludes certain highly volatile food and non-food items.

Image credits: Junpinzon | Dreamstime.com

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