PHL inflation rises in March; ADB sees economy to grow by 6 pct in 2022

BANKNOTE. The controversial P1,000 bill made of cotton and abaca, some of which will be in circulation soon.

QUEZON CITY – Inflation in the Philippines quickened in March to 4 percent from 3 percent in the two months before that government officials reported.

Oil price upticks in the international market due largely to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine resulted in the surge of the country’s inflation rate.

This brought the average inflation in the first quarter this year to 3.4 percent, within the government’s 2-4 percent target range until 2024.

The Philippine economic recovery, meanwhile, is expected to gain traction this and next year, underpinned by rising domestic investment and consumption as pandemic restrictions eased, allowing for more manufacturing and construction activities, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The Asian Development Outlook 2022, ADB’s flagship economic publication, forecasts the Philippine economy to grow by 6 percent in 2022, rising further by 6.3 percent in 2023.
Government measures issued last month to reopen the economy, lift mobility restrictions, expand coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination, and relax international travel restrictions will boost the services sector.
“Nearly all indicators point to higher growth for the Philippines this year and in 2023, barring the impact of external factors from geopolitical tensions that may dampen growth globally, including in the country’s key export markets Europe and the United States,” ADB Philippines Country Director Kelly Bird said.
“Policies to build the resilience of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), which play a vital role in the country’s economic recovery, should be strengthened to support the sector’s digital transformation, business innovation, and skills development,” Bird added.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said “inflation expectations have likewise risen, but continue to be anchored to the 2-4 percent target band.”

Increases in oil prices and their impact on commodity prices in both the international and domestic markets made Philippine monetary authorities hike the government’s average inflation forecast for this year to 4.3 and 3.6 percent for 2023. These were previously at 3.7 percent for 2022 and 3.3 percent for 2023.

Diokno said “the economic consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have become a significant headwind in global economic recovery.”

He said this development may impact the domestic economy through “slower world GDP (gross domestic product) growth, higher crude oil prices, higher world non-oil prices, and potential second-round effects on inflation through transport fares, wages, and food prices.”

“Under these circumstances, the BSP will closely monitor the emerging risks to the outlook for inflation and growth, and remain vigilant against possible second-round effects from supply-side pressures or any shifts in the public’s inflation expectations,” he said.

Diokno said the central bank “continues to have a wide arsenal of policy instruments to respond to possible adverse impact of external shocks.”

“The BSP likewise supports the timely implementation of direct non-monetary measures by the government to mitigate the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on global oil and non-oil commodity prices,” he said, adding “previous episodes of supply-side shocks in the country have shown that these are best addressed through timely non-monetary policy interventions that could ease directly domestic supply constraints and prevent second-round effects on prices.”

In response, Presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said the government would not let its guard down, noting that it continues to monitor the prices of basic commodities.

The Duterte administration would redouble its efforts to tame the rapid increase in consumer prices, he said.

“Our economic managers continue to keep a tight watch over inflation as it hits 4 percent in March 2022,” Andanar said. “Having said this, we will not relax in our efforts and will work twice as hard to address the national issue of higher prices.”

The March’s 4-percent inflation rate is faster than the 3 percent recorded in January and February, National Statistician Undersecretary Dennis Mapa said.

Mapa said food and non-alcoholic beverages; housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels; and transport are the main contributors to the faster inflation in March.

Average inflation for January to March 2022 settled at 3.4 percent, Mapa said.

The latest headline inflation is within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)’ forecast of 3.3 to 4.1 percent.

The BSP projected a rise in domestic inflation rate for March 2022 due to an uptick in oil prices.

It also adjusted its average inflation projection to 4.3 percent from 3.7 percent for 2022 and to 3.6 percent from 3.3 percent for 2023. (Jeanne Michael Penaranda)