MANILA – The Philippines’ inflation rate continued to decelerate for the third straight month in November, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Tuesday that the headline inflation rate further eased to 4.2 percent in November from 4.6 percent in October.

The decline in the overall year-on-year inflation was primarily driven by the slowdown in inflation for food to 4.1 percent in November from 5.6 percent in October.

In particular, vegetable inflation turned negative at -1.8 percent in November from 11.4 percent in October. Fish inflation also dropped to 7.9 percent from 9.5 percent in the same period. Meat inflation likewise decreased to 10.7 percent from 11.9 percent, while pork inflation decreased to 17.3 percent from 23.3 percent.

However, on a month-on-month basis, both meat and pork recorded positive inflation at 2.4 and 4.2 percent, respectively.

The latest data from the Department of Agriculture (DA) shows a slower pork import arrival with only a 42 percent utilization of the expanded pork minimum access volume (MAV) as of end-November. At the same time, the unreleased inventory of frozen pork is reported at 76,953 metric tons. The slow importation and release of inventory, together with higher demand due to the Christmas season, led to higher average pork prices in November.

“Pork prices continuously went down month-on-month from July to early-October. This means that our policy to temporarily import pork has been effective. However, the uptick in prices in November shows that we need to further ease administrative requirements for the unloading and distribution of stocks to encourage more importation and help bring back pork prices to their pre-African Swine Fever level,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said.

Meanwhile, non-food inflation slightly rose to 4.1 percent from 3.8 percent for the same period. The main driver was high international crude oil prices, which drove up transport inflation to 8.8 percent from 7.1 percent. This was also reflected in the higher inflation seen in housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels at 4.6 percent from 4.4 percent.

In a bid to support qualified public utility jeepney operators amid high oil prices, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has started distributing cash grants worth Php 1 billion through its Pantawid Pasada Program. As of November 24, around 78,000 out of 136,000 target beneficiaries have received fuel subsidies.

The government has also increased the passenger capacity for public utility vehicles (PUVs) from 50 percent to 70 percent in areas under Alert Level 2 to increase mobility and help PUV drivers earn more.

NEDA recommends further increasing passenger capacity to up to 100 percent for all transport types as vaccination rates increase.

“Enhancing people’s mobility while observing health protocols is crucial as we sustain our economic recovery amid the threat of the Omicron variant. As restrictions ease, we recommend increasing public transport capacity to 100 percent as vaccination rates increase to reduce crowding in terminals and help protect commuters and drivers from future oil price shocks,” Chua said.

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