Inflation hits poor hardest, especially in NCR

Houses of informal settlers line an estero on Recto Avenue area in Manila, as towering condominium buildings are seen in the background. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported there were 19.99 million Filipinos who were considered poor, translating to a poverty incidence rate of 18.1 percent. The government, however, is confident it can achieve its overall target of a 9-percent poverty incidence by 2028.

THE poorest Filipinos reeled from high food costs as inflation experienced by the Bottom 30 percent of the population soared 9.7 percent in January, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Based on PSA data, the inflation for the Bottom 30 percent of households in January was the highest in 14 years or since March 2009 when inflation rose 12.2 percent.

Food alone inflation experienced by the Bottom 30 percent of households soared 10.4 percent in January. Inflation for the food and non-alcoholic beverages was also high at 10.1 percent.

“Food and non-alcoholic beverages [account for] 54.9 percent or almost 55 percent, more than half of the items in the basket for the Bottom 30 percent households, [that’s] food. So if food inflation is higher, as we’ve seen earlier, so we know that inflation will really be higher,” National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa explained on Tuesday, speaking partly in Filipino.

Inflation of food and non-alcoholic beverage items accounted for 57.8 percent of the increase in inflation.

Among food and non-alcoholic beverage items, Vegetables, Tubers, Cooking Bananas and Pulses and Sugar, Confectionery and Desserts posted the highest growth of 31.3 percent and 47.8 percent inflation in January, respectively.

Mapa said the high inflation experienced by the poorest Filipinos was also due to more expensive housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels as well as transportation.

He said housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels posted a 12.5-percent inflation and accounted for 20.2 percent of the increase in inflation in January 2023.

Transportation, meanwhile, posted an inflation of 10.4 percent and accounted for 6.6 percent of the increase in commodity prices last month.

Urban vs Rural

The poorest Filipinos living in Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR) saw the same rate of inflation at 9.7 percent. Inflation in NCR was 0.8 percent and 4.1 percent in Areas Outside NCR (AONCR) in January 2022.

However, food was more expensive for those living in one of the world’s largest megacities compared to the average in areas outside Metro Manila last month.

Food alone inflation in NCR averaged 12.6 percent while food and non-alcoholic beverages posted an inflation of 11.9 percent in January 2023.

In AONCR, food alone inflation averaged 10.3 percent while food and non-alcoholic beverages posted an inflation of 10.1 percent in January 2023.

PSA said 12 regions in AONCR recorded higher inflation rates for the bottom 30 percent income households in January 2023.

The highest inflation rate was recorded in Region 11 (Davao Region) at 11.9 percent, while the lowest was posted in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) at 7.5 percent during the month.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes


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