Sat, May 06, 2017 - Page 12 News List

Consumer prices edge up, despite drop in food costs

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The consumer price index (CPI) edged up 0.12 percent last month from a year earlier as higher charges for oil products and outpatient visits offset declines in food costs, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.

Transportation and communication costs picked up 2.3 percent last month from a year earlier as more highway bus operators raised fares, by an average of 15.88 percent, after some of their peers announced price increases of up to 18.28 percent in March, the report showed.

Highway bus operators have said upward adjustments are necessary to digest increased costs following the implementation of new labor regulations that require higher overtime pay and more days off for workers.

“The new labor regulations helped push up transportation costs, but the magnitude was mild,” DGBAS senior executive officer Jasmine Mei (梅家瑗) said.

Additionally, oil product prices gained 12.24 percent last month, but international crude oil prices have been showing signs of moderation, Mei said.

The consumer price index rose just 0.02 percent after seasonal adjustments, lending support to forecast of benign inflation, Mei said.

Food costs, which have a more than 25 percent weighting, dropped 2.38 percent, dragged by a 34.54 percent fall in vegetable prices and an 8.2 percent decrease in the cost of eggs, the report showed.

Fishery product costs bucked the decline with a 5.06 percent increase, as did the costs of dairy products and meat, increasing 3.28 percent and 2.19 percent respectively.

Medical and health-related costs rose 1.36 percent, because hospitals raised charges for outpatient treatments and other fees, citing higher costs due to new labor regulations.

Miscellaneous spending costs gained 2.27 percent due mainly to higher charges for cigarettes, betel nuts and hair styling services, the report said.

The legislature in January approved steep tax increases on cigarettes to help finance long-term care services.

In the first four months of the year, the CPI increased by a moderate 0.61 percent from the same period last year, the report said.

The wholesale price index (WPI) grew 1.12 percent year-on-year last month, easing from a 1.74 percent uptick on the back of higher metal, oil, coal and chemical product costs, the agency said.

Export prices rose 5.18 percent in US dollar terms last month, but declined 1.17 percent if measured in New Taiwan dollars, Mei said.

That lent support to the nation’s export showing last month in US dollar terms, but exporters might not benefit at the same pace after factoring in potential foreign-exchange losses, she said.

The Ministry of Finance is due to announce last month’s export data on Monday.

For the first four months of the year, the WPI rose 2.02 percent from a year earlier, the report said.

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