CPI up 1.53% last month, but cost of floods not reflected

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 06, 2018 - Page 12

The consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.53 percent last month from a year earlier, driven mainly by more expensive tobacco and fuels, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.

The modest increase might be the result of the market needing more time to absorb the impact of the torrential rain late last month that caused serious flooding in Tainan, Kaohsiung and Chiayi and Pingtung counties, it said.

“The latest inflation data reflects only 20 percent of the potential impact [of the flooding],” a DGBAS official said by telephone.

Agricultural losses caused by the flooding were estimated at NT$871.99 million as of Aug. 31, according to statistics compiled by the Council of Agriculture.

Council of Agriculture Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) last week said he was concerned that corn, egg and meat prices could go up significantly ahead of the Mid-Autumn Festival on Sept. 24 due to the impact of the flooding, which killed a total of 1.5 million chickens, ducks and geese.

Food costs, which account for 25 percent of total CPI weighting, edged up just 0.74 percent, as vegetable price declines largely eased the price hikes for eggs, fruit and milk products, the agency said in a report.

After seasonal adjustments the inflationary gauge rose 0.04 percent, while the core CPI, a more reliable tracker of long-term consumer price movements, gained a 1.36 percent, it said.

“Overall, consumer prices remained benign,” it said.

The miscellaneous category saw the biggest increase, 5.8 percent, as the market has yet to recover from a hike on cigarette taxes last year, the report said.

Transportation and communication costs rose 3.82 percent as international oil prices soared 19.47 percent, pushing up plane ticket prices by 10.89 percent, it said.

The wholesale price index (WPI) last month rose 6.83 percent year-on-year, indicating more expensive base metals, minerals, plastics and their products, the DGBAS said.

The New Taiwan dollar last month weakened 1.52 percent against the US dollar, lending support to import prices, it said.

Over the first eight months of the year, the CPI climbed 1.64 percent, while the WPI gained 3.49 percent, it said.