THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Thursday that price movements in April may fall within the higher tip of the range amid continued volatility in the international prices of commodities.
BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said this month’s inflation rate may settle at a range of 3.7 percent to 4.7 percent.
“April’s inflation forecast showed that prices have remained well-behaved. Nevertheless, we will continue to monitor developments, particularly movements in international commodity prices, to see if there would be a need to make adjustments in our policy stance,” Tetangco said in a text message to reporters.
Monetary authorities had warned of inflation exceeding their targets in some months and might peak in the second quarter before tapering off toward end of the year.
For 2011 and 2012, the central bank projects inflation to average at a range of 3 percent to 5 percent.
Analysts expect price movement for 2011 to settle at 5.9 percent, taking into consideration the problems in Northern African and the Middle East and their impact on oil and remittances from overseas Filipino workers.
They added that the global inflationary impact of massive reconstruction in Japan and the potential impact of food inflation caused by the nuclear fallout may also contribute to the upward path of inflation.
Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. had projected inflation to hit 4.7 percent and breach 5 percent in May.
Rising inflation expectations had led the BSP to increase by 25 basis points its key rates after keeping them steady for almost two years.
Market consensus is for another round of 25-basis points hike toward the end of the year for a total of 50-basis points increase to 4.50 percent for the overnight borrowing rate.
Some pundits, however, call for a 75 basis points to one-percent hikes.
The next meeting of the policy-making Monetary Board is on May 5.
Mitigate impact of crisis
Separately, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the country’s economic managers are studying possible measures to mitigate the impact of rising prices on poor Filipinos.
“The government is aware that there could be impact on especially the vulnerable groups. Number one, of course, we do have to monitor but we’re watching it closely and trying to see what we can do on what needs to be done,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director General Cayetano Paderanga told reporters on Thursday.
“It’s being worked on by other task groups,” he said.
The former administration had implemented a conditional cash transfer program to shield the poor from the global financial crisis.
The government also released an emergency fund amounting to P500 million for workers who lost their jobs because of the global financial crisis.
The Asian Development Bank earlier said that a 10-percent rise in domestic food prices in the Philippines could push an additional 1.37 million Filipinos, or 1.26 percent into poverty.
A 20-percent jump in food prices would raise the number of poor Filipinos by 3.2 percent, or 2.75 million.
According to the National Statistical Coordination Board, the number of poor Filipinos rose to 28.5 million in 2009 or the year the global crisis began, from 27.6 million in 2006.
WITH REPORT FROM DARWIN G. AMOJELAR