The consumer price index (CPI) last month edged up 0.43 percent from a year earlier as rising food prices more than offset declines in transportation costs, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
Food prices gained 2.35 percent, mainly due to a 14.56 percent jump in vegetable prices and 3.57 percent rise in fruit prices after heavy rain hurt harvests, Senior Executive Officer Chiou Shwu-chwen (邱淑純) told a news conference in Taipei.
Vegetable and fruit prices were lower last year, as there was less torrential rain, Chiou said.
Wholesale vegetable and fruit prices averaged NT$33.2 per kilogram and NT$41.3 per kilogram respectively, compared with NT$26.5 per kilogram and NT$35.7 per kilogram a year earlier, she said, citing Council of Agriculture data.
Transportation and communication costs, on the other hand, fell for the ninth consecutive month, with a decline of 2.44 percent, dragged by lower fuel prices, airfare and telecom services.
Average ticket prices for domestic and international flights fell 3.79 percent, as the nation’s two major carriers — EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) and China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) — cut prices to attract customers, Chiou said.
Average ticket prices are dependent on the two airlines as they operate the majority of international flights, the DGBAS said, adding that it checks about 80 percent of all flights every month to capture fluctuations in airfares.
Ticket prices are expected to remain low, as discounts continue until the end of the year, it said.
Prices for telecom services fell due to stiffer competition, it added.
Transportation and communication costs, which have a 15 percent weighting in overall inflation measures, helped ease the rise in food costs, which have a 25 percent weighting, the DGBAS said.
Food prices have a greater impact on families with modest income, accounting for 30 percent of expenses for those in the bottom 20th disposable income percentile, it said.
They make up only 19.6 percent of disposable income for households in the top 20th percentile, Chiou said.
The inflation index for households in the lowest 20th percentile in terms of income advanced 0.64 percent, compared with a 0.39 percent rise for households in the top 20th percentile, the DGBAS said.
Core CPI — a more reliable long-term inflation gauge, as it excludes volatile items — expanded 0.45 percent, affirming stable consumer prices, Chiou said.
The wholesale price index, a measure of production costs, fell 3.44 percent from a year earlier, as prices of raw materials, base metals, chemicals and oil products fell further amid soft demand, she added.
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