Chasing steep prices with stagnant wages

The country’s headline inflation rate, which recently inched up to 4.4 percent from 4.2 in February, comes as no surprise in view of the rising prices of basic commodities. For most Filipino families, it reflects a tighter round of making both ends meet.

The March inflation report by the National Statistics Office (NSO) noted the hikes in electricity rates and petroleum products on top of price adjustments in basic commodities. Last month, oil companies increased pump prices thrice while Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) raised its rates by P1 per kilowatt-hour.

Commodity prices, meanwhile, have remained steep. Price monitoring by the National Statistical Coordinating Board (NSCB) shows that the galunggong, which used to be a staple fish, has been on a steep price climb since May last year. Its current cost at P123 per kilo makes noodles, which are far cheaper at around P6.50, more of a staple food for poor families.

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