Prices in R-12 stable despite inflation – NCSB

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 March) — The prices of basic commodities and services in Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region have remained stable in the last several weeks despite the “modest increase” in the area’s average inflation rate as of the end of January.

Herlita Caraan, National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Region 12 director, said Monday the region’s inflation rate increased to 3 percent in January or 0.4 percent higher than 2.6 percent average inflation in December.

But she said the January inflation figure was lower by 0.5 percent when compared to the same month last year.

The inflation rate measures the year-on-year rate of increase in the prices of basic commodities.  An inflation of 3 percent means that prices of commodities and services in January increased at a rate of 3 percent, on the average, than their prices a year ago.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato as well as the cities of General Santos, Cotabato, Koronadal, Kidapawan and Tacurong.

Citing data released by the National Statistics Office, Caraan said the 0.4-percent increase in the region’s average inflation by the end of January was caused by the 28.6-percent rise in the prices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco as a result of the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 10351or the “sin tax” reform law.

In line with the implementation of RA 10351, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) issued Revenue Regulation 17-2012 dated Dec. 21, 2012, imposing higher excise tax rates on tobacco and alcohol products in the country effective last January 1.

“(But) majority of the region’s commodity items posted slower price hikes during the period,” the official said.

A report released by NSCB-12 showed that aside from alcoholic beverages and tobacco, items under restaurants and miscellaneous goods and services also increased during the period but was listed at just 0.1 percent.

The increase in food and non-alcoholic beverage prices slowed down to 1.5 percent from 2.1 percent in December while clothing and footwear only posted an inflation rate of 2.8 percent from the previous month’s 2.9 percent.

The other items that posted slight decreases are housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, health, and, transport.

Goods and services under communication, recreation and culture, education, furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house posted sustained inflation rates to their December levels.

Compared to the same month last year, Caraan said items under housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels were up by 0.2 percentage point and those under education at 1.1 percent.

She said food and non-alcoholic beverages commodity group, which is considered as the biggest component of the region’s market base, posted a slower annual growth of 1.5 percent in prices compared to the 3.1 percent last year.

The increase in the prices of rice, meat, and bread and cereals in January 2013 has also slowed down the inflation on communication further slid to negative 2.5 percent from negative 1.3 percent in the same period the previous year.

The other commodity groups that posted slowdowns were transport (from 5.5 percent to 0.6 percent), recreation (from to 2.7 percent to 0.6 percent), clothing (from 4.0 percent to 2.8 percent) and health (from 4.9 percent to 4.0 percent). [Allen V. Estaillo/MindaNews]