Key industry leaders on Thursday said forecasts indicating that April’s inflation figure will dip down to as low as 5.2 percent, according to some private sector economists, is consistent with what they are presently witnessing on the ground. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), however, was more conservative, assuming a 6.3 to 7.1 percent inflation figure, which is still markedly lower than the 7.6 inflation in March. In an interview, Steven Cua, president of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association (PAGASA), said that while it is difficult to accurately predict inflation numbers, he expressed faith that ‘economists are making realistic forecasts.’ ‘We (food retailers) can definitely feel the slowdown (in inflation) because our suppliers are no longer issuing us notices of price increases,’ he explained. Cua said that the tapering of inflation cannot have come at a better time because steep price increases in certain commodities have forced consumers to buy less. He added that in order to stave off the raising prices, some manufacturers have resorted to decreasing the quantity of products in the same packaging. Cua, meanwhile, assured that while consumers may have to contend with higher prices, ‘supply is no longer a problem.’ Cua was reacting to a shortage in the supply of onion between December 2022 and January this year, which sent prices up to unprecedented levels. For his part, a prominent oil executive who requested anonymity said local pump prices continue to decline despite efforts of the Organization of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC) to cut back on production. ‘We are selling diesel at about PHP 48 to 49 per liter. That is the wholesale price, which means they must buy at least one truck,’ the oil executive revealed. He further explained that it is because of this decline in wholesale prices that some gas stations are able to sell their diesel products for between PHP 52 to 53 per liter today. ‘Oil price hikes are the catalysts for all other price increases, so a rollback in petroleum prices will definitely slow inflation down,’ the oil executive said. It can be recalled that inflation in March was at 7.6 percent, down from February’s figure of 8.6 percent.
Source: Philippines News Agency