The nation’s consumer price index (CPI) edged up 0.18 percent last month from a year earlier as rising transportation costs more than offset declines in food prices, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
Transportation and communication costs advanced 2.78 percent last month from a year earlier as highway bus operators raised fares by 18.28 percent, the steepest increase in 28 years, DGBAS Senior Executive Officer Jasmine Mei (梅家瑗) said.
Mei for the first time linked the increase in inflation with a new labor law that requires companies to pay more overtime and give workers more leave.
Companies in different sectors have complained about higher labor costs and have indicated that they plan to raise prices.
The 15.63 percent increase in the cost of crude oil added to higher transportation costs, which more than offset the 2.49 percent and 2.28 percent decline in Internet and telecommunications charges respectively, the agency’s monthly report showed.
The CPI reading dropped 0.3 percent after seasonal adjustments, the monthly report said.
Food costs, normally the main driver of inflation, fell 1.72 percent last month, as vegetable and egg prices plunged 38.34 percent and 12.24 percent respectively, the report said.
However, fruit prices increased 13.81 percent as last year’s bad weather continued to disrupt supply, the report said.
Core CPI, a more reliable indicator of long-term inflation because it excludes volatile items, registered a 0.95 percent increase, the report said.
For the first three months of the year, the inflationary reading recorded a mild 0.78 percent uptick, it said.
The wholesale price index (WPI), a measure of commercial production costs, advanced 1.84 percent last month, easing from a revised 2.39 percent increase in February on the back of higher crude oil and raw material prices.
Export prices last month rose 5.59 percent in US dollar terms, favorable for companies with outbound shipments.
The Ministry of Finance is due to unveil last month’s export data on Monday next week.
In the first quarter, the WPI grew 2.32 percent from the same period last year, the report said.
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