Inflation is estimated to have edged higher to over nine percent in February and expected to remain elevated this month, according to an economist.

Alvin Ang, chair of the Ateneo de Manila University's Department of Economics, said in an interview with The Chiefs aired over One News, that based on their projections, inflation is estimated at around 9.1 percent in February.

The forecast is within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) projection that inflation would settle within 8.5 to 9.3 percent for February.

Ang said the 9.1 percent estimate might be the peak, unless there are significant changes in the movement of prices this month.

'The challenge really is [prices] are going up, across the board in what they call core inflation, which is excluding food and utilities,' he said.

With the easing of pandemic restrictions in China, which serves as a source of consumer items in the country, and improvements in supply chain situation, he said a slowdown in the inflation rate may be seen this month.

'Hopefully, by March, it will start to slow down. But it will be elevated. Our estimate is that's not going to be back to four percent,' he said.

The country's headline inflation rate zoomed to a 14-year high of 8.7 percent in January, amid faster upticks in utility and food costs.

Last year, inflation averaged 5.8 percent, exceeding the BSP's two to four percent target.

Given the country's low agricultural output which is affecting prices, he said what the government could do in the short term is to work with local government units and the private sector in sharing information on the inventory of agricultural products.

Beyond having an inventory mechanism, he said there is a need to restructure the economy, which has given too much focus on the services sector.

'We cannot say we will leave agriculture and industry behind. There has to be a certain level of agriculture for our food security and also to a certain extent, our manufacturing that would provide us connections to the value chains,' he said.


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