Feb. CPI likely within target — BSP

 Feb. CPI likely within target — BSP
PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE CONSUMER price index  (CPI) likely rose within the central bank’s target range in February, but faced upward pressure from higher fuel and food prices, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said.

February inflation likely settled within a projection band of 2.8% to 3.6%, Mr. Diokno said in a Viber message to reporters, noting the BSP’s point inflation forecast is at 3.2%.

This will be within the central bank’s 2-4% target band.

“The series of oil price hikes along with higher prices of rice and meat are the primary sources of inflationary pressures during the month,” the BSP said in a separate statement.

If realized, the BSP’s point inflation projection will be quicker than the 3% in January, though still slower than the 4.2% in February 2021.

A BusinessWorld poll of 15 analysts yielded a median estimate of 3.3% for last month’s inflation.

Global oil prices soared in February amid tight supply and geopolitical tensions. Brent crude oil once again jumped beyond $100 on Monday, after Western nations imposed tough new sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine.

Based on the latest data from the Department of Energy, gasoline, diesel and kerosene have jumped by P8.75, P10.85, and P9.55 per liter, respectively, since the year started.

On the other hand, the BSP said lower electricity rates in areas serviced by the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will be a factor that could offset faster price increases, alongside cheaper fish and vegetable products.

Meralco earlier said the overall electricity rate dropped by P0.1185 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to P9.5842 per kWh in February from a month earlier. This means typical households in Metro Manila will see a reduction of around P24 in their bills due to lower generation charges.

“Looking ahead, the BSP will continue to monitor emerging price developments and possible second-round effects to help achieve its primary mandate of price stability that is conducive to balanced and sustainable economic growth of the economy,” the BSP said.

At its policy review on Feb. 17, the central bank raised its inflation forecast for the year to 3.7% from 3.4% previously due to higher global oil and nonoil prices.

The Monetary Board kept interest rates at record lows to support the recovery, but said it will be ready to arrest second-round effects of inflation due to higher oil prices when needed.

The Philippine Statistics Authority will release the February inflation report on Friday (March 4). — Luz Wendy T. Noble