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July inflation at 5.7%, fastest in at least five years

Consumer prices in the Philippines were up 5.7 percent in July, the fastest inflation rate in at least five years, the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed Tuesday.

"The uptrend was mainly due to the 7.1-percent annual rate recorded in food and non-alcoholic beverages index," the statistics office noted.

"Compared with their annual rates in June 2018, all the food groups posted higher annual increments in July 2018 except for the indices of corn and fruits," it said.

The latest data is nearly twice as fast as 2.4 percent in July 2017, and an acceleration from the 5.2 percent registered in June 2018.

This is also the seventh straight month that inflation accelerated, or since the 4.0 percent registered in January.

Inflation in the National Capital Region (NCR) was faster at 6.5 percent in July, following 5.8 percent in June and 2.9 percent in July 2017.

Faster annual mark-ups

Annual increases were noted in alcoholic beverages and tobacco (21.9 percent); transport (8.9 percent); and housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels (8.2 percent).

Price increases were also recorded in food and non-alcoholic beverages (7.2 percent); health (4.5 percent); clothing and footwear (2.4 percent); recreation and culture (1.1 percent); and communication (0.6 percent).

"The rest of the commodity groups either moved up at a slower pace or retained their previous month's rate," the PSA said.

Areas outside NCR posted an inflation rate of 5.5 percent, higher than the 5.1 percent in June and the 2.2 percent in July 2017.

"Faster annual mark-ups were recorded in all the commodity groups, except for the indices of recreation and culture, and education," said the PSA.

The latest figures brought year-to-date inflation rate to 4.5 percent, faster than the government's target range of 2 to 4 percent.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has  forecasted inflation to clock in at 4.5 percent for the full-year 2018.

In a separate report by Maki Pulido on Balitanghali, economist Emmanuel Leyco noted that faster inflation would mean higher hunger statistics.

Food would be greatly affected by the inflation spike as it is “fuel-based,” the economist said.

The excise tax on fuel must be suspended to address rising prices of goods and services, Leyco added.

Palace comment

Sought for comment, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said inflation was not discussed during the 28th Cabinet meeting in Malacañang on Monday.

"It was not formally discussed, but the President has previously expressed alarm also over rising inflation," Roque said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Roque added the recommendations of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to address inflation was "considered" by the Cabinet's economic cluster.

"I clarified with Secretary Piñol that his recommendation is the issuance of SRPs [suggested retail price] for fish products and as far as the importation of fish products is concerned, there’s a restriction by law that it cannot be delivered immediately to the markets," the Palace official said.

"It has to be delivered at an intermediate point which has to be amended before we can actually effect importation of fish products." —With a report by Anna Felicia Bajo and Virgil Lopez/KG/KBK/VDS, GMA News