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High cost of food items pushes inflation to 18.17%

Consistent rise in prices of food items, including bread, cereals, potatoes, yam and others like tubers, meat, vegetable, fish, oils and fats and fruits pushed Consumer Price Index (CPI) to 18.17 per cent (year-on-year) in March 2021, National Bureau of Statistics has revealed. This rise indicates 0.82 per cent points higher than the rate recorded in February 2021 (17.33%). Increases were recorded in all COICOP divisions that yielded the headline index. On month-on-month basis, the headline index increased by 1.56 per cent in March 2021.

This is 0.02 percentage points higher than the rate recorded in February 2021 (1.54%). The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the 12-month period ending March 2021, over the average of the CPI for the previous 12-month period was 14.55 per cent, representing a 0.50 per cent point increase over 14.05 per cent recorded in February 2021.

Urban inflation rate increased by 18.76 per cent (year-on-year) in March 2021 from 17.92 per cent recorded in February 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased by 17.60 per cent in March 2021 from 16.77 per cent in February 2021. On a month-on-month basis, the urban index rose by 1.60 per cent in March 2021, up by 0.02 compared to the rate recorded in February 2021, while the rural index also rose by 1.52 per cent in March 2021, up by 0.02 compared to the rate that was recorded in February 2021 (1.50%). The corresponding 12-month year-on-year average percentage change for the urban index is 15.15 per cent in March 2021.

This is higher than 14.66 per cent reported in February 2021, while the corresponding rural inflation rate in March 2021 is 13.99 per cent compared to 13.48 per cent recorded in February 2021. According to NBS, composite food index maintained consistent rise. It rose by 22.95 per cent in March 2021 compared to 21.79 per cent in February 2021.

“This rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, potatoes, yam and other tubers, meat, vegetable, fish, oils and fats and fruits. “On month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased by 1.90 per cent in March 2021, up by 0.01 per cent points from 1.89 per cent recorded in February 2021.

“The average annual rate of change of the food sub-index for the 12-month period, ending March 2021 over the previous 12-month average was 17.93 per cent, 0.68 per cent points from the average annual rate of change recorded in February 2021 (17.25) per cent,” NBS said.

Core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce, stood at 12.67 per cent in March 2021, up by 0.29 per cent when compared with 12.38 per cent recorded in February 2021. “On month-on-month basis, the core sub-index increased by 1.06 per cent in March 2021. This was down by 0.15 per cent when compared with 1.21 per cent recorded in February 2021. “The highest increases were recorded in prices of passenger transport by air, medical services, miscellaneous services relating to the dwelling, passenger transport by road, hospital services, passenger transport by road, pharmaceutical products, paramedical services, vehicle spare parts, dental services, motor cars, maintenance and repair of personal transport equipment, and hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishment,” the report said.

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