Singapore headline and core inflation unchanged at 0.7% and 1.2 % in March

Looking ahead, the Government said it expects a temporary increase in inflation this year on the back of administrative price adjustments.
Looking ahead, the Government said it expects a temporary increase in inflation this year on the back of administrative price adjustments.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singapore's headline inflation was unchanged in March from the previous month at 0.7 per cent year on year, as drivers of inflation were largely similar, according to official figures released on Monday (April 24).

Core inflation came in at 1.2 per cent in March, the same as in the previous month, as price changes in the core components of the consumer price index (CPI) basket were broadly stable. The core inflation number excludes changes in the price of cars and accommodation, and better reflects the consumption pattern of the average Singaporean day to day.

After a record two-year spell of negative inflation, Singapore's consumer prices rose for three straight months till February.

Looking ahead, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said jointly they expect a temporary increase in inflation this year on the back of "administrative price adjustments".

These include the upward revision in car park charges and household refuse collection fees which took effect from December 2016 and January 2017 respectively, as well as upcoming increases in water prices and service and conservancy charges (S&CC).

U-Save rebates, which have also been increased and will partially offset the impact of higher water prices, are not taken into account in the CPI, said MAS and MTI.

"Overall, domestic sources of inflation remain relatively muted. Conditions in the labour market have slackened, and this is expected to dampen underlying wage pressures, even as commercial and retail rents have eased. The subdued economic environment will also limit the extent to which businesses pass on higher import and administrative costs to consumers," said the joint statement.

MAS held its exchange rate-based monetary policy steady last week, saying a "neutral" stance will be needed for an extended period as it looked to support an economy that contracted in the first quarter amid lingering risks to the global outlook.

For March, private road transport inflation eased to 6.9 per cent from 7.1 per cent in February, as the faster pace of increase in car and motorcycle prices was offset by the smaller pickup in petrol prices, figures from the Department of Statistics showed.

Services inflation edged up to 1.6 per cent in March, from 1.5 per cent a month earlier. The slightly quicker pace of inflation was mainly due to a pickup in air fares following price declines in the previous month, even as telecommunication services fees fell.

Food inflation was 1.3 per cent in March, unchanged from the preceding month.

Although the price of restaurant meals increased at a faster pace, non-cooked food inflation slowed.

Accommodation cost fell by 4 per cent in March, the same rate of decline as in the previous month, amid continued softness in the housing rental market.