Inflation ticks up for 4th-straight month

INFLATION in Jamaica edged up in August as higher costs for food and the increase in the national minimum wage were enough to outweigh the gains for consumers from lower petrol prices.

Inflation data for August show prices rose 6.8 per cent compared to 12 months earlier, according to a release Friday from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica. It was the fourth-straight month in which inflation ticked up slightly from its near two-year low 5.8 per cent in April, keeping it stubbornly above the Bank of Jamaica's (BOJ) upper limit of 6 per cent.

Food prices, which have pressured Jamaicans' budgets for more than two years, rose 1.4 per cent in August but are up 10.9 per cent over the last 12 months. Leading the increase was higher costs for yam, sweet potato, Irish potato, tomato, carrot and cabbage - all impacted by the prolonged drought condition affecting the country. Other food items such as bread, flour and rice, and meats such as chicken, turkey neck and corned beef recorded increases, firming inflations grip in consumer's wallets.

The BOJ did forecast price increases will continue above its target for the remainder of the September quarter before falling below 6 per cent in the December quarter.

The expectation is that except for a few months next year, inflation will remain within the central bank's 4 per cent to 6 per cent target and will have to remain there a while before the BOJ will look to cut its policy interest rate which has been at 7 per cent since November last year.

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