Friday 21 Jun 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (April 25): Malaysia’s consumer inflation came in lower than expected in March from a year earlier as prices of healthcare and food rose at a slower pace, official data on Thursday showed.

The Consumer Price Index — Malaysia’s main gauge of inflation — rose 1.8% year-on-year, according to the Department of Statistics. The headline figure was a tad lower than the median 2% rise predicted in a Bloomberg survey of economists, and unchanged versus February’s 1.8% gain.

Inflation in March was mainly driven by housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, which climbed 3%; restaurant and accommodation services, also up 3%; and personal care, social protection and miscellaneous goods and services that inched up 2.6%, the department said.

However, the increase has been offset by the other main groups which recorded a slower increase namely health (2.1%); food and beverage (1.7%) and recreation, sport and culture (1.5%), the government’s statistics arm said.

Headline inflation in Malaysia was lower compared with Vietnam’s 4%, the Philippines 3.7%, the US 3.5%, Korea 3.1% and Indonesia 3.1%. China reported negative inflation of 0.1% while consumer prices in Thailand declined 0.5%.

Core inflation — which measures domestic-driven inflation by excluding volatile items and other price-administered items — was 1.7% in March.

The official forecast calls for headline inflation rate of 2%-3.5% in 2024 versus 2.5% in 2023 and core inflation at 2%-3% against the 3% average in 2023.

Food and beverages, which has the largest weightage in the index at 29.8%, climbed at a slower pace versus 1.9% in February as main subgroups of food-at-home registered a slower rise while food-away-home remained steady.

The rise in prices of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels group was largely due to Kedah’s higher water tariff rates for domestic users starting in March 2024, according to DOSM Chief Statistician Malaysia Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin.

Meanwhile, faster inflation for restaurant and accommodation services versus 2.9% in February was due to the increase in beverage preparation services, he noted. Inflation for personal care, social protection and miscellaneous goods and services also picked up to 2.6% from February’s 2.5% as other personal item group advanced.

Further, the transport group saw a 1.3% rise in March, higher than the 1.2% registered a month ago, which Mohd Uzir attributed to the rise in the main subgroup operation of personal transport equipment that rose 1.4% in March versus 1.3% in February.

The average price of unleaded petrol RON97 in March 2024 was higher at RM3.47 per litre compared with RM3.35 per litre in March 2023.

On a state-by-state basis, Mohd Uzir noted that most states recorded inflation lower than the 1.8% national level, except five: Penang (3%), Sarawak (2.9%), Pahang (2.1%), Selangor (2.1%) and Perlis (1.9%).

Meanwhile, the government’s chief statistician highlighted that all states registered an increase in F&B prices, with Selangor leading at 3.2%, followed by Penang at 2.8%, Putrajaya 2.6%, Sarawak 2.1%, Perlis 2.1% and Labuan 2%.

Other states showed an increase below the national inflation of F&B of 1.7% in March.

Edited ByJason Ng
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