The consumer price index (CPI) last month climbed 2.09 percent from a year earlier, driven by sharp increases in fuel costs and airfares, while prices in other consumption categories also gained momentum, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
The inflationary reading is the highest in more than three years and is set to stay above 2 percent this month and likely next month due to a low comparison base last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the statistics agency said.
“Besides the low comparison base, a surge in prices of raw materials and agricultural products also pushed up the CPI value,” DGBAS official Tsao Chih-hung (曹志弘) said, adding that container shortages and shipping chaos made things worse, while other countries, such as South Korea, were also affected.
Tsao said that Taiwan’s consumer prices remain benign and controllable, even though the US and Europe consider CPI values of above 2 percent concerning.
The CPI measure after seasonal adjustments rose 0.2 percent, while core CPI, a more reliable long-term price tracker, increased 1.35 percent after excluding volatile items, Tsao said.
Transportation and communications prices spiked 9.39 percent, as fuel costs soared 47.95 percent, while airfares increased 32.24 percent, both growing at record pace in the survey’s history, the official said.
A 9.94 percent decline in telecommunications devices helped ease the increases a bit, the agency’s monthly report said.
Educational and entertainment costs rose 1.8 percent, while clothing prices grew 1.18 percent after travel companies and garment stores raised prices by 8.22 percent and 1.86 percent respectively, it said.
Food costs, which carry the largest weight, edged 0.61 percent, as egg and vegetable prices gained 5.52 percent and 4.95 percent respectively, but fruit prices fell 5.43 percent, it said.
The wholesale price index (WPI), a measure of commercial production costs, increased 9.62 percent, the steepest rise in more than 12 years, propelled by strong demand for raw materials amid a lack of supply, especially base metal and chemical products, it said.
Export prices rose 11.82 percent, while import prices increased 19.11 percent, with mineral and chemical products reporting the biggest price increases, it said.
For the first four months, consumer prices increased 1.13 percent, while the WPI rose 3.04 percent, it said.
Consumer prices might start to moderate next quarter when the low comparison base effect would taper off.
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