GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 Sept) – The prices of basic commodities and cost of services in Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region have remained stable despite posting slight increases during the first quarter of the year.
Arturo Valero, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Region 12 director, said their assessment showed that commodity prices within the region’s four provinces and five cities averaged around 2.9 percent in the first three months of the year.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Cotabato, Koronadal, Kidapawan and Tacurong.
“A moderate increase in the prices for all commodities in the region was noted during the period,” Valero said.
He said that among the commodity groups, alcoholic beverages and tobacco registered the highest inflation rate with 5.2 percent, followed by transport with 5.1 percent, health with 4.3 percent, and housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels at 4 percent.
Clothing and footwear prices increased by 3.8 percent; recreation and culture by 3.1 percent; education by 3.1 percent; restaurants and miscellaneous goods and services by 2.8 percent; equipment and routine maintenance of the house by 2.4 percent; and, food and non-alcoholic beverages by 2.2 percent, he said.
Valero said only communication registered a negative inflation rate with -1.2 percent during the period.
The inflation rate measures the rate of increase in the prices of basic commodities based on 2006 prices as rebased by the National Statistics Office, he said.
“The rebased inflation rate data are available for the periods starting July 2011 only, thus, the 2012 first quarter data could not be compared with the same period in the previous year,” Valero noted.
For the rest of the year, he said the prices of commodities are likely to be maintained at reasonable level but “price hikes for educational services might be expected as some educational institutions shall implement increase in tuition and other school fees for the school year 2012-2013.”
Meantime, the official said the region’s employment was estimated at 96 percent or 0.8 percentage point lower than the 96.8 percent recorded in the same period the previous year.
He said the area’s employment rate is higher by 3.2 percent than the national average of 92.8 percent.
Valero said labor force participation in the region was estimated at 64.9 percent, registering a 0.6 percentage point increase over the 64.3 percent estimate in the previous year.
The bulk of employed persons were in the agriculture, forestry and fishery sector at about 55 percent, followed by the services sector that catered to 36 percent of the region’s workers. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)