Consumer prices rise year-on-year for the first time since start of pandemic

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Thailand’s headline consumer price index (CPI) in April jumped 3.41 per cent year-on-year to 100.48 points, the first time it rose in 14 months, the Ministry of Commerce said Wednesday.

“The surge of consumer price index in April was the highest record in eight years and four months,” said Wichanun Niwatjinda, a deputy director at the Trade Policy and Strategy Office.

The CPI came out higher than anticipated in a Reuters’ analyst poll by 2.50 per cent. In March the figure fell 0.08 per cent from last year.

A rise in oil prices from the low base levels last year, increasing electricity and water bills after assistance schemes ended, and rising fresh food prices such as swine and fresh vegetables, all pushed the index higher, said Wichanun.

Excluding energy and food categories, the core CPI index rose 0.30 per cent year-on-year, beating a forecast of 0.18-per-cent expansion.

Of the 430 product and service items used to calculate inflation, the prices of 134 items rose in April. A total of 99 items saw a decline, while the prices of the remaining 197 items were unchanged.

Covid-19 outbreak concerns

The Trade Policy and Strategy Office said the new wave of Covid-19 has affected the nation’s economy across sectors, which could slow down the economic recovery.

Looking ahead in May, the CPI will continue to rise at high levels if there are no financial aid measures from the government to support cost of living, Wichanun said. However, he forecast a 2-per-cent drop in case the measures are introduced.

The government Wednesday announced a third round of handouts to help consumers face the economic hardships of the latest wave of the pandemic.

Wichanun said stimulus plans were expected to continuously launch and could boost domestic demand to offset the burden in the tourism sector, while global trade’s recovery would likely push exports to grow.

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