CPI edges up on higher cigarette tax, oil prices

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Nov 07, 2018 - Page 12

The consumer price index (CPI) last month rose 1.17 percent from the same period last year, as cigarette tax and oil price hikes continued to push up miscellaneous and transportation costs, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said yesterday.

The figure represented a fractional increase of 0.08 percentage points from September, the monthly inflation report showed.

“Cigarette prices last month grew 15.03 percent from a year earlier, underpinning a 2.93 percent pickup in miscellaneous costs,” an agency official said.

However, the pace of increase moderated significantly, as the market is soon to emerge from cigarette tax hikes intended to help fund long-term care services for Taiwan’s rapidly aging population, the report said.

Transportation and communication costs gained 2.46 percent, another main CPI growth driver these days, as international crude oil prices rose 18.61 percent from a year earlier, it said.

The increase came even though authorities cut MRT fares by 9.68 percent and telecoms lowered mobile phone and Internet service charges by 6.88 percent and 5.96 percent respectively, it added.

Food costs, which account for 25 percent of the inflationary reading, advanced 1.49 percent from a year earlier, led by a 29.49 percent surge in egg prices, a 5.74 percent gain in fruit prices and a 2.64 percent rise in milk product prices, the report said.

Meanwhile, vegetable prices declined 5.43 percent, subduing part of the food cost hikes, the official said.

Core CPI, a more reliable inflation tracker because it excludes volatile items, inched up 0.72 percent, suggesting that consumer prices are steady. The CPI reading after seasonal adjustments edged down 0.16 percent.

The wholesale price index (WPI), a measure of production costs for companies, last month rose 5.95 percent, easing from a revised 6.33 percent increase in September, the agency said.

Import prices grew 7.5 percent in US dollar terms, as mineral products continued to be more expensive, although the pace moderated, it said.

Export prices picked up a modest 1.3 percent in US dollar terms, thanks to healthy demand for mineral, chemical and industrial products, it added.

The latest WPI data suggested that imports last month continued to outperform exports in growth as in the third quarter, when external demand proved a drag on the economy, leaving private consumption to single-handedly bolster GDP growth.

In the first 10 months of this year, CPI grew 1.6 percent, while WPI rose 4.01 percent, the agency said.