Headline inflation could have eased anew in December, the Finance department said on Wednesday, given stable food prices and lower power rates.
The rise in consumer prices slowed to 3.3 percent in November and the department said this likely moderated further to 3.2 percent as the year ended.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas earlier issued a 2.9-3.6 percent forecast for the month, citing higher pump and rice prices that were likely offset by a stronger peso and cheaper electricity.
Official December and full-year inflation data will be released by the Philippine Statistics Authority on Friday.
Inflation a year earlier was just 2.6 percent.
“Low inflation is an indication that the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals remain strong,” the Finance department said in an economic bulletin.
It added that solid fundamentals, backed by the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, rice sector reform and the “Build, Build, Build” policy, would push economic growth to 7-8 percent this year and sustain manageable inflation.
Slower price growth was forecast for housing, utilities and fuels (8.1 percent from 9.7 percent); transport (2.8 percent from 4.4 percent); and recreation and culture (1.5 percent from 1.6 percent).
Increases, meanwhile, were forecast for alcoholic beverages and tobacco (6.2 percent from 6.1 percent); clothing and footwear (1.9 percent from 1.8 percent); furnishings and household equipment (1.9 percent from 1.8 percent); and health (2.3 percent from 2.2 percent).
Expected to have stayed unchanged are food and non-alcoholic beverages (3.2 percent), rice (1 percent), communication (0.4 percent), education (2.2 percent) and restaurants and miscellaneous services (2.9 percent).
The Finance department noted that Manila Electric Co.’s per kilowatt-hour (KWh) rate for households consuming 200 kWh per month decreased to P9.25 in December from P9.63 a month ago. The price of diesel, however, rose to P36.20 per liter from P35.46.
Gasoline prices declined to P48.12 per liter from P48.48 in the metropolis.
November’s 3.3 percent inflation brought average inflation to 3.2 percent for the first 11 months of the year, within the target range of 2 percent to 4 percent.
Economic managers have kept the inflation target at 2 percent to 4 percent for the next three years, reckoning that the rise in consumer prices will remain manageable over the period.