KUALA LUMPUR (April 22): Malaysia's inflation, as measured by consumer price index (CPI), increased 2.2% in March 2022 from a year earlier, mainly driven by the 4% increase in CPI's food and non-alcoholic beverages segment as prices of food items including chicken and vegetables spiked more than 10%, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) said on Friday (April 22, 2022).
The country's March 2022 year-on-year (y-o-y) CPI rise of 2.2% was unchanged from the February 2022 CPI increase, according to the DOSM's statement.
DOSM chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said in the statement that "the increase in food inflation, which is the largest component to the overall weight of [the] CPI, remained to be a major contributor to inflation".
"The 4% increase in food & non-alcoholic beverages group was largely due to an increase in the component for food at home which inclined (increased) 4.3% compared with 4.1% recorded in February 2022.
"The subgroup of meat continued to be the main contributor to the increase of this group with an increase of 7.6%. Chicken, the biggest component in subgroup of meat, increased 10.5% while beef increased 4.3% in March 2022. Nevertheless, the increase in subgroup of meat was slower than February 2022 (9%)," Mohd Uzir said.
The DOSM said the CPI's vegetables subgroup increased 5.1%, driven by the rise in the prices of spinach, lettuce and Choy Sam at 24.1%, 22.2% and 14.5% respectively.
According to the DOSM, the increase in the prices of vegetables is attributed to the increase in global prices of pesticides and fertilisers.
"Furthermore, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will further exacerbate the increase in the prices of fertiliser, hence, production cost," the DOSM said.
Meanwhile, the CPI's milk, cheese and egg subgroup rose 7%, led by the price rise in eggs of 17.1%, followed by evaporated and condensed milk's price increase of 9%, according to the DOSM.
The DOSM said the CPI's food away from home segment increased 4% in March 2022, contributed by the price increase in rice with side dishes at 6.6% and Murtabak's 6.2% price rise, according to the DOSM.
For the first quarter of 2022 (1Q22), the DOSM said the CPI rose 2.2% from a year earlier.
On a quarterly basis, 1Q22 CPI grew at a slower rate of 0.9% compared with 4Q21's 1.2% rise.
"The [CPI] performance of 1Q22 was still influenced by the ceiling price of unleaded petrol RON95 and diesel as well as the rise in chicken prices above the 2021 average price.
"On a monthly basis, the CPI [in March 2022] increased 0.3% compared with in February 2022," the DOSM said.
On March 2022 CPI's 2.2% y-o-y rise, Mohd Uzir said other segments that contributed to the CPI's increase included the furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance segment, which rose 3%, while the transport component of the CPI climbed 2.6%.
The DOSM said the base effect of Malaysia's ceiling price for unleaded petrol RON95 at RM2.05 per litre and diesel at RM2.15 per litre, which started in March 2021, ended in February 2022, hence, leading to a moderate increase in transport component of the CPI in March 2022.
"However, the average price of unleaded petrol RON97 recorded the highest increase of RM3.73 per litre from RM2.42 per litre in the same month last year. Brent crude oil prices also increased by 77.3% to US$115.59 per barrel in March 2022. The increase in global oil prices was due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia," the DOSM said.