Taiwanese consumers are feeling the pinch of inflation more sharply than other people in the region after food costs spiked 5.8 percent in the first five months of this year, faster than in neighboring countries, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
The increase in food costs, which account for 25 percent of the consumer price index (CPI), is higher than South Korea’s 4.6 percent, Thailand’s 4.5 percent, Hong Kong’s 3.8 percent and Singapore’s 3.1 percent, the agency said, adding that food costs in the US rose 8.6 percent and climbed 6.1 percent in Europe.
However, Taiwan’s overall inflation rate rose only 3.04 percent during the period, slower than Thailand’s 5.2 percent, Singapore’s 4.18 percent and South Korea’s 4.3 percent.
As people buy food on a daily basis, Taiwanese feel the pinch more strongly than the real inflationary figures suggest, the statistics agency said.
It said the relatively moderate CPI readings in Taiwan had to do with government interventions.
To mitigate inflationary pressure, the government has asked state-owned oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (台灣中油) and Taiwan Power Co (台電) to pause price changes and introduced tariff breaks on imported oil, grain and raw materials.
That is why Taiwan’s non-food costs — especially electricity and fuel prices — are relatively tolerable, while they have surged 44.2 percent in the US, 30 percent in the EU, 30.4 percent in Thailand, 26.6 percent in South Korea, 24.9 percent in Singapore and 19.7 percent in Japan, the agency said.
It dismissed the claim that Taiwan’s food costs are overly high, citing World Bank data showing that Taiwan’s prices ranked 73th among 176 economies, behind the US, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, although ahead of Thailand.
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